Wynne Gray

Wynne Gray is a Herald columnist

First Take: Blues stifled in wet weather

Frank Halai of the Blues runs the ball during the round eight Super Rugby match between the Brumbies and the Bulls at Canberra Stadium. Photo / Getty Images.
Frank Halai of the Blues runs the ball during the round eight Super Rugby match between the Brumbies and the Bulls at Canberra Stadium. Photo / Getty Images.

Brumbies 26
Blues 9

Playing in wet weather is one of the arts in rugby where there is even more emphasis on set-piece work and tactical kicking.

For much of a damp contest in Canberra, the Blues showed an improved accuracy in their lineout and scrum despite some of the rulings from referee Rohan Hoffman.

But their kicking for space to pressure the Brumbies in the air or with their chasing line was not as sharp or as potent as their hosts. There were long passages of play where the sides traded kicks and usually the Brumbies came out on top through Jesse Mogg, Matt Toomua or Nick White.

So once more the Blues went to halftime in arrears. It was not as insurmountable as some of the deficits they have faced this season but a 13-6 margin was a precious lead in the slippery conditions.

The Brumbies turned that promise into treasure with two more tries in the third quarter as their persistent pressure opened overlaps against the Blues defence.

Pat McCabe's energy delivered his second touchdown before Robbie Coleman slid in at the corner as the Blues' attempt to break a 10 match losing run on the road foundered once more.

The Brumbies rolled mauls from the lineouts and used their pick and drive plays to soak up time and maintain a clamp on the Blues which they could not break. The further the match went the more they were stifled.

Now they have a bye when other New Zealand teams can earn points while they sit and stew about their prospects in the rest of the series.

- NZ Herald

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