A long season awaits the Blues while they continue to pay scant attention to the basics.

Maybe they got lucky in their first game or were so determined to get things right on opening night they exhausted their entire season's attention span.

Whatever, since they beat the Highlanders, they haven't delivered on the foundations. It was the set piece that scuppered them in Christchurch and then last night it was their lack of speed and technical accuracy at the breakdown combined with a failure to keep the detail of their game tidy, that saw them slowly crumble. At the death they had all the chances, but there was no killer punch in them.

Ball protection is everything at this level and double the value against a side such as the Hurricanes who have some of the best poachers in the business. It couldn't have been a surprise that around the tackled ball Ardie Savea was busy. Yet the Blues were painfully slow to the tackled player and paid the price.


They'd build a few phases and then leave their ball carrier isolated - and it was all too easy for the Hurricanes to take back possession.

They won't feel that they played much rugby or fell into a nice rhythm, but they did enough with what they had. They didn't need to hog the ball or dominate across the park because they were good enough to score points when they created half chances.

They also seemed content to let the Blues have the ball - confident that they would soon enough run into a dead end and hand the ball back.

No one can win if they aren't clinical and precise in that critical area. The Blues can't expect to be the team they want to be if they can't deliver on the basics.

Their ability to build pressure and dominate wasn't helped much by not getting a fair deal from the officials. But teams make their own luck.

Referees are swayed by the big picture and the impression was easily enough drawn that the Blues were a bit wild: a bit loose and panicky and more likely, therefore, to have transgressed.

For those who have suffered long at the hands of the Blues in the last decade, there will be a sense that not much has changed. A promising start is already a distant memory and this year is threatening to merge into all the others if the same old mistakes continue to be made.

Effort and commitment have never been a problem for the Blues and nor were they issues last night. Industry is welcomed but it's not a quality on its own that can sustain a season. The Blues have to refine that and mix in some innovation and subtlety.