Stormers 30 Blues 22

That's probably it for the Blues as far as playoff hopes go.

They needed to win in Cape Town and while they played themselves into contention in the first 55 minutes, they casually threw it all away thereafter.

The frustration will be not just that they lost, but the way they did so. They had the Stormers where they wanted them. They were playing the better rugby; spending long periods in the parts of the field they wanted to be in and they had the opportunities to finish things off before the final quarter.

The clinical parts of their game deserted them though when they really needed them and from having it in the bag, they came away with a defeat and now little chance of making the last eight.


They will have to take a long at their second half performance and determine why, not for the first time this season, they drifted out of the game.

They were in control of the first half, keeping the ball in hand, running hard and straight up the middle before pushing it wide.

The Stormers had no answer to that. They couldn't deal with the pace of the Blues attack and they couldn't get defenders to where they needed to be when the offloads were astutely used.

It was classic Blues rugby. Their explosive athletes using a combination of their strength, pace and skill to damage the opposition.

No one did that better than Charlie Faumuina who had a hand in the first three tries, giving clever passes to assist in each.

But the flow and rhythm the Blues found in the first half left them in the second. The offloading dried up. The confidence to attack wobbled and they pretty much opened the door for the Stormers and invited them back into the game.

It didn't help that Matt Duffie was red carded with 12 minutes to go in what must be the least deserved red card in the history of Super Rugby.

His first came when he was offside in the first half - copping yellow because the referee's patience had snapped with the number of times the Blues had been penalised for that same offence.

His second came for...well, it's not actually clear but he appeared to be all over a Stormers player who was trying to get up.

It obviously didn't help that the Blues were reduced to 14 men, but they were struggling before Duffie was ordered off.

One of the biggest problem areas was defending the driving maul. It was again a problem for the Blues as it was last week playing the Cheetahs. They didn't concede tries directly as was the case in Auckland, but they did concede a lot of penalties.

Strangely, give the size and quality of their pack, the driving maul - both defending it and using it - is not a strength and it was here that the Stormers built their game.

They used that and the intensity of their defence to build the pressure and force the Blues into mistakes. It was a smart if not particularly ambitious plan but they won't care about that.

Stormers 30 (S. Kolosi, D. Leyds, S. Notshe tries; S. Marais 2 cons, 3 pens)
Blues 22 (G. Moala, J. Parsons, B. Gibson tries; P. Francis 2 cons; B. Gatland pen)