THE BLUES feel they have the right game plan, but continual handling errors are hurting them.
So inaccuracy and not tactics are to blame, says first five Gareth Anscombe, as the under-siege franchise faces down the Sharks at Eden Park this Friday.
“Our game plan was working [against the Rebels] – we made a lot of inroads out wide – but there were dropped balls or flat passes,” says Anscombe, who has been in and out of the starting XV while coach Pat Lam searches for the winning formula. Ironically, he found a winning formula against the Bulls but dropped Anscombe two weeks later.
The No 10 feels the hunger has been there in each game, but poor skill execution under pressure has cost the Blues. That will be giving headaches to skills coach Jeff Wilson.
“We’re hurting as much as the public, I’m guessing, but it’s not for lack of trying. We’re still upbeat and think we can do some damage on the Sharks,” Anscombe says. “They’ll be up for it, but so will we.”
Lam has fronted the media on several occasions since the dire 23-34 loss to the Melbourne Rebels last Thursday, but has gone on record as saying he will not resign unless his players tell him to go.
That is highly unlikely as there are several players who have Lam to thank for advancing their causes in selecting them when they are not up to Super Rugby level.
“My employers are backing me 100 percent, but that’s not the focus,” he says.
The focus is the Sharks, whom the Blues last beat in 2005. They too are coming off a poor display, a 18-42 reverse to the Hurricanes, and have probably targeted the Blues game, given they had the likes of Bismarck du Plessis and Meyer Bosman coming off the bench for that defeat.
“Right through the competition, teams that are expected to aren’t winning. Look at the champions (the Reds). You lose some cattle and you are not on the same page and the other team’s up for it. The Sharks had all the ball and were physical, but the Hurricanes through excitement and some really good opportunities did bloody well,” says Lam.
There were several minor injuries to senior men Keven Mealamu, Benson Stanley and Tony Woodcock, but Lam was hopeful all would be cleared to play.« Back to Articles
With the series level, expect both teams to put it all on the line as they seek to win the deciding test in Sydney on Saturday night.