Blues v Chiefs

Late but belated match report from Saturday night. Been an IRL whirlwind for a few weeks, so good to be back at a computer for a while. Few things to cover off

Tom Robinson
Outstanding as captain. Talked more to the refs in one half of rugby than Patty T did in the whole season to date. I love Pat T, and he’s awesome to lead in the team, but influencing refs is not his strong suit. More Tom talking to refs please. Also, he arguably won us the game with his super astute captains challenges.

Captains Challenges
Can’t stand them. This week they benefitted us, but they suck. Seeing refereeing teams standing around with hands on hips talking is just stupid. At the ground you have no idea what’s going on, and they are a goddamn lottery. Burn them with fire, they are a blight on the game. Which brings us nicely to

Goal line drop outs
Suck idea as well. FFS, who comes up with this stuff - totally changes the balance of ‘ruck just outside the goal line’ to ‘just over’ goes from 5 m scrum to getting the ball back on halfway. It’s nuts.

Refs and TJs
I commented before the game that I thought the standard was abysmal. They don’t get laws to help the, but it’s a lottery at times. In this game there were a couple of clear howlers on the touch judges (feet in touch, carried out) that are clear and obvious, but not picked up in real time by the person standing there. Overall, all year it’s been super average.
I won’t start on the tip tackles/tackles in air this year – they have gone from flavour of the month and starting with Red Cards to ‘whatever’. All we want from refs is broad consistency… but one week you get a penalty reversed for a head rub, compared with grabbing players in the air having no negative consequences.

It’s not easy to fix this one, but it’s really really important to the health of our game in the medium to long term.

Up for it, as expected. Nothing to lose. Scrum held up well and managed to get the ball out when it started to fall apart. Probably a fair result in the end (20 point loss), but battled bloody well to get there. Which brings us nicely to

this game was a perfect example of a team that’s down on confidence and looking lumbering and predictable. Last year we saw slick interpassing near sidelines, and good rugby IQ. This year we don’t know who our best 9 is, and are not playing heads up rugby. Can’t see and exploit space at the moment, and it shows. Despite the talent, the spine is still weak compared to most other sides in the comp (2/8/9/10/15). I think we really missed James Parsons and BB out there.

We seemed determined to give the ball back to the Chiefs and relieve pressure. Whether it was dropping goal line kickoffs out on the full, conceding stupid penalties or just plain playing poorly it was an entertaining but low skill game. That said, at 19 all you could panic and fall over, and they stepped up, controlled the game and run in 20 quick points. Genuinely can’t complain about the finishing at the end.

I’ll post more in the 2021 Blues thread, but at the end of the day we were one reffing decision away from a winning season and a trip to the final. It was two steps forward last year, and half a step back this year. Frustrating as a supporter. I do wonder if something has happened in camp - we played very well for three weeks, and then just shat the bed for the rest of the comp.

If I were coach, I’d forget about the backs and just use our dominant forwards in the loose to create space. When those boys get on a roll, no one can live with them - combine with a decent set piece and we’d be looking to grind down teams. Not pretty, but I’ll take that over shovelling the ball around all over the place.

That said, mauls have come on a long way this year. You could see them working on them every game, mauling where previously we wouldn’t. Our maul defence is much better as well - compared to where we were, we’ve seen massive improvement. And ultimately, that goes to us winning agains NZ sides, which we couldn’t do previously. 4-4 is incredible compared to Tana and JK … and two of those were games we did everything but win.

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