If their season was hanging by a thread before they played the Sharks, the Blues are now clinging to almost nothing.

Once again, they find themselves already facing a near impossible situation if they are to do anything other in this competition than make up the numbers.

They have lost four of their five games so far, but the micro analysis is of a team hitting a steep downward trend. They were poor in their previous outing against the Stormers and just as bad again against the Sharks.

Coach Tana Umaga liked the fact that his side played with more heart and urgency in Auckland than they did in Cape Town, but he couldn't find any solace in the lack of accuracy, poor game management and ill-discipline. He branded the result "embarrassing" but remained hopeful his side can find the fortitude to bounce back.


"I think we got the effort," said Umaga. "The execution of our gameplan wasn't the best, our wayward kicking. We don't help ourselves in that respect. Our game understanding and game awareness is still a big work-on for us.

"Leaking 60 points is not good enough. It is not a structural thing it is individual. It was an embarrassing one for us."

There will need to be ample soul searching through the week and some tough questions asked about individual performances.

Conceding 60 points at home is a travesty and suggest there is a lot more wrong with the club than may have been apparent in recent weeks.

This was bad, a real stinker of a performance that had poor basic skills, lack of discipline and maybe even a lack of heart.

Where it leaves their season is hard to tell. In pieces, obviously, but the question now is, are they in free fall or do they have the fight within them to find their way back to respectability?

On the basis of what they have produced in the last two weeks, it's hard, despite Umaga's confidence, to believe it will be anything but the former.

It's hard to see that they will be able to fix all that they need to fix in the next few weeks because the list of problems is extensive.


The visitors earned their points all right. They defended with structure and passion, offloaded superbly at times, ran neat lines, kicked well and slowed the Blues' possession at the breakdown.

But there is no denying they were able to look better than they really are as the Blues were awful – those eight minutes aside when the Sharks were reduced to 14 men and they home team were able to score 21 points.

Something clicked within the Blues at that point. They suddenly pulled off these sweeping moves where they passed and ran into space.

The forwards ran harder, bashed over the gainline and cleaned out better and the tries came, one, two, three and from being 26-7 down at halftime, the Blues were 28-26 up with 25 minutes left to play.

But as quickly as it began it ended. The Sharks, once they had 15 men again, returned to dominating the game and the Blues, drifted back to missing tackles, losing their shape and kicking the ball away.

That was the killer – their desire to keep kicking when it was so painfully apparent that the Sharks were cutting them up on the counter attack.

That just reeked of stupidity. But they didn't show any capacity to learn. Nor did they show any capacity to cut out the poor discipline. They couldn't get themselves onside no matter how many times Robert du Preez punished them with his unerring boot.

The Sharks first-five can kick. He was brilliant and knocked them over from everywhere - his 38 points are the second most in a game in Super Rugby history - because the Blues kept giving him the opportunity.

It all made for a horribly painful evening for the Eden Park faithful who were hoping to see their team put their season back on track.

Sharks 63 (R. Botha, J. Du Preez, L. Mtembu, R. du Preez, K. van Wyk, C. Bosch tries; R. Du Preez 6 cons, 7 pens)

Blues 40 (M. Collins, A. Ioane, P. Tuipulotu, S. Perofeta, R. Ioane, G. Moala tries; Perofeta 5 cons)