Patrick McKendry is a rugby writer for the Herald.

Rugby: Blues have to beat away hoodoo

"We need to address how we leak points after we score," loose forward Jerome Kaino told the  Herald  afterwards. Photo / Getty Images
"We need to address how we leak points after we score," loose forward Jerome Kaino told the Herald afterwards. Photo / Getty Images

Prediction time: the Blues will beat the Kings in Port Elizabeth this weekend and thus break their away match hoodoo stretching back to June 2014.

The reality is, if they don't beat the South African newcomers, who must travel home to Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium after losing 73-27 to the Jaguares in Buenos Aires on Sunday, some serious questions have to be asked.

The Blues were on their flight to the Republic when the Jaguares were putting 11 tries past the competition's worst team, an advantage in itself, but there is such a gulf in quality between Tana Umaga's outfit and the Kings that anything less than a bonus point victory will be a disappointment.

The Blues are bottom of the New Zealand conference but showed in their come-from-behind victory over the Sharks at Eden Park and last weekend's 36-30 win over the Rebels - Australia's best team according to the points table - that they have a bit about them.

Now it's time to prove it away from home. This season on their travels, they have been soundly beaten by the Crusaders in Christchurch, snatched a draw against the Reds in Brisbane and lost narrowly to the Chiefs in Hamilton.

They are targeting three wins over the next three weekends - they face the Lions in Johannesburg after this weekend and the Force in Perth on the way home - and they should get at least two.

The Lions should be the toughest competition despite their recent thrashing at the hands of the Hurricanes, and the Force are lying just above the Kings in 17th on the table with only one victory.

There is unlikely to be complacency in the Blues camp as they settle into their base on South Africa's Eastern Cape - their away record should ensure that and so, too, should the way they finished their victory over the Rebels. From a position of dominance at 36-18 with about 20 minutes to go, they shipped 12 points and had to defend a lineout on their own line in the final moments. It highlighted a lack of ruthlessness they have to quickly rediscover.

"We need to address how we leak points after we score," loose forward Jerome Kaino told the Herald afterwards. "It's concentration, but also a discipline thing. You can get a bit comfortable once you get ahead by a certain number of points. Once you take your foot off the throat, teams can come back, and the Rebels did that."

Kaino, who has ceded the captaincy to hooker James Parsons after a shoulder injury and ahead of his likely call-up to the All Black squad for the June tests against Wales, said his team's away record would be talked about during the week.

"It has been an issue for us and it would be naive not to address it.

"It's a big trap [to take the Kings lightly]. We've looked at their games and they've often started really well, especially against the Chiefs [they were leading after 30 minutes]. This is definitely not an easy game - we're not looking at it like that.

"The management and leadership group will definitely look at how we approach the game - the mentality and mindset we have."

- NZ Herald

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