Wynne Gray

Wynne Gray is a Herald columnist

Rugby: Video nasties shake up Blues

Mistakes package reminds inexperienced group they still have a long way to go as they prepare for Bulls.

As public approval levels mount for the Blues, the staff have been collating video nasties for their troops.

That process juggles the strategies for Sunday's game against the Bulls and reminders about the difficulties in the win against the Crusaders.

The mistakes and virtues packages remind the inexperienced Super 15 group that victories against the Hurricanes and Crusaders have been a strong start, but nothing more, in a season which could stretch into August.

The yin and yang summaries from the coaching staff showed the form fluctuations at set piece - areas the Bulls will target at Eden Park.

The three-time series champions arrive this week to begin a rugged away stretch against the Blues, Crusaders, Reds and Brumbies.

Coach Frans Ludeke lambasted his side for their latest lacklustre 36-26 win against the Force although he praised their late mauling and ability to scratch out the win.

Meanwhile, the Blues were going through similar self-analysis as they assessed injuries and the sort of tactics they want to employ in their third round clash.

Forwards Peter Saili, Luke Braid, Culum Retallick and five-eighths Chris Noakes are recovering from injuries but are expected to ready for the Bulls on Sunday.

Forwards coach Mick Byrne has been dealing with the inconsistency from the opening matches where the scrum and lineout fluctuated in standard. The lineout struggled to claim just over half their throws against the test-laden Crusaders.

"We just have to have the confidence to go with what we plan to do," Byrne said.

"We have a young team with not a lot of combination and time together yet. We got some good learnings from the last game and we will take those into the Bulls game.

"Part of having a young group is that sometimes you move on to the next task forgetting what you did the week before. We will revisit our basics this week."

Scrum and lineout were equally difficult areas of the game.

Binding in the scrums or finding space in the lineout were just two examples of the issues confronting teams and their coaches.

The Bulls had tall locks and loose forwards who would present lineout challenges. It was up to the Blues to sort out a counter so they could find space for their throws.

"We have to trust our systems and we did not do that as well as we should have at the weekend," Byrne said.

Statistics showed the Blues claimed only six of their 11 lineout throws with captain and senior lock Ali Williams leading the self-critique analysis and repair work.

The Bulls would bring a game which would test the resolve of his young squad, coach John Kirwan said. Their forwards would look to muscle up and force mistakes from the hosts for Morne Steyn to kick penalties.

- NZ Herald

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