Wynne Gray 's Opinion

Wynne Gray is a Herald columnist

Wynne Gray: Defensive weakness evident in stats

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Jacques-Louis Potgieter of the Bulls is tackled by Jackson Willison of the Blues. Photo / Getty Images
Jacques-Louis Potgieter of the Bulls is tackled by Jackson Willison of the Blues. Photo / Getty Images

If you like your rugby loose with frequent scoreboard changes then head for Eden Park on Saturday.

Fresh, or should that be back, from their South African trip, the Blues host the bottom-placed Cheetahs who are in the death throes of their month-long road trip.

Both sides have one victory this season but the Blues are several points and places ahead of the cellar-dwellers.

The Blues can score tries and are leading that tournament tally alongside the Hurricanes with 13 touchdowns. The Cheetahs have not been slouches either with 10 tries on their record sheet.

The other side of the ledger is not as sharp.

In conceding 14 tries, the Blues are the second-worst team in the series while the Cheetahs have yielded all 19 of their tries in their recent games with the Rebels, Reds and Hurricanes.

In those matches the Cheetahs have scored 74 points but conceded 138.

The Blues' defence is not at all sharp either as they have conceded four, three, four and then three tries in their latest defeat to the Lions.

They are most vulnerable at first phase where their rivals have scored eight tries while the Cheetahs are more exposed when opponents put together multiple phases.

Set-piece is an ongoing problem for the Blues. Their scrum is the worst by some distance in the competition with a 59 per cent success rate and at 80 per cent, their lineout is only better than two others in the Super 15.

John Kirwan is in his second season as Blues head coach in charge of planning and overall strategy.

The defence portfolio is run by Graham Henry and Grant Doorey with Henry also responsible for the leadership group in the side while Doorey oversees the backline.

All Blacks skills coach Mick Byrne has added that work to his Blues dossier and is in charge of the lineouts.

Inaccurate comments would fill out the Blues report card from their loss to the Lions in Johannesburg. They conceded 11 turnovers, missed 14.5 per cent of their tackles, lost three of their lineout throws and two of their scrum deliveries, conceded 13 penalties and had two players sinbinned.

- NZ Herald

Wynne Gray

Wynne Gray is a Herald columnist

NZ Herald senior rugby writer Wynne Gray has been covering the All Blacks for almost 25 years and has attended more than 230 All Blacks tests live for the Herald.

Read more by Wynne Gray

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