KSA Shark ©

Brittle Blues know it’s time to stop the rot

Written by Andre Bosch (KSA Shark ©)

Posted in :In the news, Super 14 on 18 Mar 2008 at 12:40
Tagged with :

It’s still early days but Blues hooker Keven Mealamu has a sneaking suspicion that Saturday’s clash with the Stormers could define their Super 14 season.

And as usual Mealamu, a veteran of eight campaigns in the blue jersey and a former skipper, mightn’t be too far off the mark.

Duncan Johnstone writes for RugbyHeaven that back to back losses have seen the Blues slip from first to fourth on the table. That slide needs to be arrested at Eden Park this weekend because if the Blues are to be title contenders they realise they can’t afford to be playing an away semifinal. A trip to Canterbury or South Africa for a knockout match later in the year has serious consequences as they well know.

Since the championship was expanded to 14 teams in 2006, the top qualifiers have lost one and three matches respectively and the second-placed teams have dropped three and four games.

The Blues are only five matches into their 13-game programme and they have already got two results in the loss column. It’s far too early to be talking about home semifinals but they realise they must rebound against the red-hot Stormers to stay on the playoffs pace.

It’s time for the Blues to make a statement and show they have the steel to be contenders.

“This is must win. It could be a defining point of our season. If we can turn it around here it could put us back up there again,” Mealamau tells RugbyHeaven.

“So this week is just about concentrating on the Stormers and getting back to playing our game. If we can do that I think we will be fine.”

Adding to the expectancy of the Blues rectifying things is that they are operating at their beloved Eden Park fortress. In a competition as cut-throat as the Super 14 you simply can’t afford to drop home games.

Albany is a home venue for the Blues but it hasn’t always been a happy one as they found out again last weekend when they collapsed against the Western Force.

“There’s nothing worse than losing at home – all your friends and family and supporters are there. I think the boys are really looking forward to putting things right this week.”

It was the Sharks who started the problems for the Blues with their win in Durban two rounds ago. And just as they did last year, the Sharks have started a bit of rot in the Blues’ campaign. But last year that didn’t set in till late in the championship. This time it has come early, giving David Nucifora’s side ample time to respond.

“We still have quite a few games to come, it’s still not the middle of the competition yet. We still have time to rectify things,” said Mealamu with real determination in his voice.

“It’s not big things either. We missed a couple of one on one tackles and they scored a try … a couple of times we didn’t get the last pass away and it really cost us. It’s just little things and if we get those details right we will be fine.”

The All Blacks hooker said statistics backed that up. As bad as the second half collapse against the Force may have looked, apparently it wasn’t as bad as the 27-17 scoreline suggested.

“Obviously the boys are very disappointed with the game. But we did our debrief and we were told from our stats that it was the best tackle percentage we have had all year and 15 linebreaks as well. We were just making crucial errors at crucial times.”

Mealamu says the changes in the game make scoring even more vital and the Blues realise the importance of that against a side like the Stormers who have strikepower right across the paddock.

“The rules make it so easy to get back into the game. Tries can come so quickly … you have to put teams away and that’s what we didn’t do against the Force. We need to make sure that if we do get chances (against the Stormers) we nail them.”

There’s no lack of respect for the Stormers in the Blues camp. The Africans beat the Blues last year in Cape Town and after losing their first three matches this year they have won their last two in Brisbane against the Reds and in Hamilton against the Chiefs.

The Stormers are boldly talking of completing a hat-trick against the Blues.

“Sometimes you think of a bit of payback,” said Mealamu in reference to last year’s Cape Town result. “But we have to look at our own personal improvement rather than looking at the other side.”

Nevertheless the Stormers’ attributes can’t be ignored as the Blues plan their revival.

“They went really well against the Reds and they have gone well on the road,” said Mealamu.

“They are quite different to the rest of the African teams. They have some good ball players and they aren’t afraid to use the ball wider if it’s on. The other African teams can be very direct – very simple but very effective. But these guys can play a few different ways … they can play wide but if they need to grunt it up they will.”

And the Stormers have Schalk Burger back in their midst. He proved too much for the Chiefs last week with his dynamic and tireless work at the breakdowns.

The Blues expect to have Daniel Braid in their ranks for his season debut as he returns from shoulder surgery.

“Burger definitely has a lot of presence when he is on the field. Braidy may be back in the 22 this week and that’s a big challenge for him coming back. But they are the confrontations you want as a player.”

It’s now just a question as to whether the Blues can front up to the confrontation of the Stormers.

The Blues are a better side than they have shown over the last two rounds, particularly last Saturday’s second half capitulation.

But Durban and Albany did show a brittle edge that has plagued recent campaigns.

It’s time to stop the rot.


  • This IS make or break for the Blues if you ask me.

  • Comment 1, posted at 18.03.08 12:43:03 by KSA Shark © Reply
    KSA Shark ©
  • I think the same goes for the Stormers don’t you think KSA? They have moved up the log substantially with their wins – but they need to continue winning.

  • Comment 2, posted at 18.03.08 12:45:52 by Nessa Reply
  • Blues could see themselves in 6th if they lose this weekend.

    Force to beat Highlanders
    Tahs to lose to Saders
    And if the Stormers win then the Blues will be 6th.

    WHO woulda thunk that!!!!!!!!!!!

  • Comment 3, posted at 18.03.08 12:46:22 by KSA Shark © Reply
    KSA Shark ©
  • Stormers are on a win win tour already.

    Nobody other than the most die hard supporters thought they would do well on tour.

    Having 2 from 2 already is darn good compared to where they were before they went on tour.

    A loss to the Blues will give the morale a slight dent, but should they win then they will be HARD to stop after such a confidence booster.

    As I said to Rob last night. Glad we’ve already played them.

  • Comment 4, posted at 18.03.08 12:49:17 by KSA Shark © Reply
    KSA Shark ©
  • You are right there KSA – glad we have already played them.

    Also not that excited that the Reds are hitting a bit of form – just before we play them. However, you only play as well as the opposing team allows you to, and we aren’t going to allow them to play well.

  • Comment 5, posted at 18.03.08 12:51:37 by Nessa Reply
  • I think the Reds will be a low scoring game.

    The always seem to be involved in low scoring matches. 🙁

    Except LAST week of course :mrgreen:

  • Comment 6, posted at 18.03.08 12:54:40 by KSA Shark © Reply
    KSA Shark ©
  • Its gonna be tough but we can take them…

  • Comment 7, posted at 18.03.08 12:56:28 by wpw Reply
  • if only the Tahs can pull a rabbit out of the hat and beat the Saders… that would be just lovely

  • Comment 8, posted at 18.03.08 12:56:52 by robdylan Reply
    Competition Winner Administrator
  • I keep thinking the Saders are bound to have a bad day at the office – hasn’t happened yet! Maybe when we play them?

    Off to get some lunch – back later.

  • Comment 9, posted at 18.03.08 12:59:11 by Nessa Reply

  • at this rate, we’re going to have to beat them

  • Comment 10, posted at 18.03.08 13:03:37 by robdylan Reply
    Competition Winner Administrator
  • Of the six lowest scoring games in the history of the S14 the the Reds were involved in 4.

    Points – Teams – Venue – Year
    9 Brumbies beat Reds 6-3 Brisbane 2007
    11 Reds beat Sharks 6-5 Durban 2004
    11 Reds beat Hurricanes 11-0 Brisbane 1999
    12 Lions beat Crusaders 9-3 Johannesburg 2007
    15 Highlanders beat Western Force 8-7 Perth 2007
    16 Cheetahs beat Reds 10-6 Bloemfontein 2006

  • Comment 11, posted at 18.03.08 13:10:21 by KSA Shark © Reply

    KSA Shark ©
  • WTF??????????????? Keegan Daniel’s try is not the fastest in S14 history. 👿 A new one has suddenly appeared from 2001. 👿

  • Comment 12, posted at 18.03.08 13:11:20 by KSA Shark © Reply

    KSA Shark ©
  • 😳

    Here is the info on the try 😳

    Vula Maimuri (12/5/2001: Highlanders – scored within 12 sec) vs Crusaders, Dunedin
    Keegan Daniel (8/3/2008: Sharks – scored within 16 sec) vs Blues, Durban
    Chris Latham (22/2/2003: Reds – scored within 21 sec) vs Brumbies, Brisbane

  • Comment 13, posted at 18.03.08 13:12:20 by KSA Shark © Reply

    KSA Shark ©
  • 12 SECONDS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! 😯

    Okay who hacked the SuperRugby stats page?

  • Comment 14, posted at 18.03.08 13:26:56 by KSA Shark © Reply

    KSA Shark ©
  • GAH! 12 seconds?

  • Comment 15, posted at 18.03.08 13:27:03 by robdylan Reply
    Competition Winner Administrator
  • Did they start the clock when the kick-off was taken or when the guy caught the ball.

  • Comment 16, posted at 18.03.08 13:28:17 by KSA Shark © Reply

    KSA Shark ©
  • The lekka thing about the Stormers is that they still have to play all the middle lot.

    A win against the Blues and or Force will count as double log points and then they return and have the BumBoys, Tahs & HorrorCanes at home.

    I do remember a few years back in the Spencer/Gerber game when we totally destroyed them at home. Looking at the Stormers /Blues current form I should think we have a better change then we would imagen. Our defense was spot on now for 5 rounds and this is the one that can break them.

    They are worried about Schalkie, they should worry about Louw and Watson aswell.

  • Comment 17, posted at 18.03.08 13:37:32 by PaarlBok Reply

  • PB

    ONE thing will decide your fate this weekend IMO.

    Nick Evans. If he is there then you will have a damn difficult time winning. If he is out then the game is yours to lose.

  • Comment 18, posted at 18.03.08 13:41:05 by KSA Shark © Reply

    KSA Shark ©
  • Stormers can take a top 4 spot… they just need to keep their foot on the gas and not implode like they’ve done so many times before.

  • Comment 19, posted at 18.03.08 13:46:10 by robdylan Reply
    Competition Winner Administrator
  • KSA they can have Carlos Spencer and can still lose. Our defense hold the key. If that is as passionate as the Chiefs games final minutes they’ll get frustrated and our losies can do their work.

    The good thing for the Stormers is as I qouted some weeks ago the good times is around the corner. All their combos and players showed a upwards spiral like Januarie & Grant, like the fatties, the lock combo, Jean & Bobo the back three & loosies. You expect big games from Schalk almost every game.

    I wont say they will win but I think they look on form much, much better then the Blues.

  • Comment 20, posted at 18.03.08 14:43:31 by PaarlBok Reply

  • I believe the Stormers can do it…..Blues confidence must be down and they have been doing a fair of travelling on Monday Perth to Auckland.

    “11 Reds beat Sharks 6-5 Durban 2004″….the worst game of rugby I have ever watched live.

  • Comment 21, posted at 18.03.08 15:30:19 by Dive Pass Reply

    Dive Pass
  • Please god, let the stormers win. Although 4:30 is a bit early.

  • Comment 22, posted at 18.03.08 15:50:58 by racheltjiedebeer Reply

  • 4.30? …. Rachel you must be in the Uk?

  • Comment 23, posted at 18.03.08 16:00:10 by Dive Pass Reply

    Dive Pass
  • I am DP. Not a morning person.

  • Comment 24, posted at 18.03.08 16:02:10 by racheltjiedebeer Reply

  • Rachel – I have never been a morning person. Thought I would get better as I got older – but I haven’t.

  • Comment 25, posted at 18.03.08 16:04:14 by Nessa Reply

  • 4.30am…. forget the morning, you could make it could be an all nighter 😉

  • Comment 26, posted at 18.03.08 16:04:51 by Dive Pass Reply

    Dive Pass
  • DP – now that’s a plan! It is weekend after all and you can always sleep the rest of the day.

  • Comment 27, posted at 18.03.08 16:08:18 by Nessa Reply

  • Seeing as it’s the Stormers I’ll make an effort, maybe, possibly…

  • Comment 28, posted at 18.03.08 16:09:54 by racheltjiedebeer Reply

  • Seeing as though the Sharks don’t have a game this weekend – I definitely think I will make the effort.

  • Comment 29, posted at 18.03.08 16:11:22 by Nessa Reply

  • Nessa we are lucky this side, 6.30am is just slightly more manageable then 4.30am…..still don’t think I will catch the 1st half.

  • Comment 30, posted at 18.03.08 16:13:19 by Dive Pass Reply

    Dive Pass
  • Rachel De Beer or Superman….which hero are you?

  • Comment 31, posted at 18.03.08 16:14:07 by Dive Pass Reply

    Dive Pass
  • DP – you are right, 6.30 is definitely better than 4.30.

  • Comment 32, posted at 18.03.08 16:14:42 by Nessa Reply

  • Racheltjie by day…. Superman by night….. Multitasking hero.

  • Comment 33, posted at 18.03.08 16:19:57 by racheltjiedebeer Reply

  • Racheltjie – now that’s a frightening thought! 😎

  • Comment 34, posted at 18.03.08 16:22:30 by Nessa Reply

  • Frightening indeed.

    Just to confirm, I don’t ‘dress up’.

  • Comment 35, posted at 18.03.08 16:26:16 by racheltjiedebeer Reply

  • Not many avatars of the late miss de beer to be found. 😳

  • Comment 36, posted at 18.03.08 16:27:15 by racheltjiedebeer Reply

  • that’s an awesome pic, Racheltjie..

  • Comment 37, posted at 18.03.08 16:28:00 by robdylan Reply
    Competition Winner Administrator
  • thanks rob.

  • Comment 38, posted at 18.03.08 16:32:51 by racheltjiedebeer Reply

  • no no – thank YOU 😉

  • Comment 39, posted at 18.03.08 16:40:26 by robdylan Reply
    Competition Winner Administrator
  • here we go… this explains it. From news24:

    For the record: The SuperWrap’s thanks to sharp-eyed and clearly knowledgeable reader Adrian Hill from New Zealand who spotted an error which has been in the Super Rugby record for some years now – pointing out that Keegan Daniel’s “record” try in 16 seconds against the Blues was in fact not a record at all. Adrian, or “Gomma” as he would be known if he was a Zimbo, e-mailed us to say that Vula Maimuri scored a try in 12 seconds for the Highlanders against the Crusaders (of all teams!) on May 12, 2001. So to the archives we went, pulled the tape of the match, and there it was. Long kick-off by the Highlanders, charge-down of a clearance by Andrew Mehrtens and a try by Maimuri in 12 seconds. Thanks for helping us set the record straight Adrian, but sorry, we can’t change the result of the World Cup!

  • Comment 40, posted at 18.03.08 17:55:40 by robdylan Reply
    Competition Winner Administrator

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