Richard Loe is a former All Black and current columnist for the New Zealand Herald

Richard Loe: Still no rhythm in Blues

Jerome Kaino prepares to run at Trevor Nyakane of the Cheetahs. Photo / Getty Images
Jerome Kaino prepares to run at Trevor Nyakane of the Cheetahs. Photo / Getty Images

I'm a farmer and if those two referees (Nick Briant in the Hurricanes-Highlanders match; Francisco Pastrana in the Blues-Cheetahs game) were livestock, I'd have them castrated so we couldn't breed from them.

I thought both were bad and the best thing I can say about their whistling was that they seemed to be bad for both sides. The Blues were bad for a lot of this match too. They deserved to win it because the match was handed to them by a yellow card and Cheetahs' errors during that period meant they leaked 17 points in 10 minutes.

Some individuals did some good things - but I have to admit I am trying really hard to say something positive here. There were too many handling errors, the Blues just don't seem to be gelling as a team - though I must say I thought their subs did quite a bit to settle the game and solidify the Blues effort. Jerome Kaino was useful, Tom McCartney did well in the front row and Hayden Triggs did okay.

Just as well too, as the Blues seem light in the second row. That young bloke Patrick Tuipolutu looks good but he was injured and missed last night; the Blues look a bit exposed there when Tom Donnelly goes off.

We all know that, given a bit of space, the Halais, Lis and Piutaus will crucify the other team. But faced with a pack that can put some acid on them and takes it to them up front, I think they might stumble.

They are also just not finding their rhythm yet. There were far too many handling errors before contact was made; a sure sign that something is not quite right.

They look a bit light-on in the second row and, having congratulated their subs, you worry about their overall depth over a long Super Rugby season. Okay, they are a young side and still re-building but these are professional rugby players and, at this level, you have to offer a bit more than just being a good ITM Cup player.

Having said all of that, it was good to see Steven Luatua producing a better game though I also worry about the Blues' loosies.

Skipper Luke Braid looks like he is doing it all by himself at times. The other two chime in with some good stuff now and then but they are not hunting as a trio yet. They also have a problem at halfback. Piri Weepu, enjoy your season, I think you're done.

First five Simon Hickey did well but he wasn't getting good service which means the Blues are not yet working right through that 6-7-8-9-10 axis.

They have to find a way to get runners like Charles Piutau and Frank Halai into the game although they may well have been too scared of the referee and his whistle to do anything. All in all, it was a win the Blues will be glad to have though they'll recognise their own shortcomings.

- Herald on Sunday

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Richard Loe is a former All Black and current columnist for the New Zealand Herald

Richard Wyllie Loe was a renowned All Black forward prop who plied his trade for the New Zealand national team between 1987 and 1995. Loe was well known by fans and team mates alike as an ‘enforcer’ on the pitch, a player who balanced his abilities with the ball with a tough-tackling prowess and a penchant for physicality. During an outstanding career Richard Loe represented his country of birth in no less than three World Cups, assisting the All Blacks to a famous victory in 1987. Along with fellow team mate and captain Sean Fitzpatrick, Loe formed one of the most formidable forward lines ever to lead the All Blacks. Despite his sometimes overly physical dominance on the pitch, Loe is regarded by former team mates as being an exceptional character and professional. Following retirement from rugby Loe became a sport columnist for the New Zealand Herald, a position he still holds today.

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