A frustrated head coach Sir John Kirwan lamented his team’s individual skill as the Blues sunk to a disappointing 43-19 loss to the Chiefs in Rotorua on Friday.
The Blues were once again guilty of turning over possession far too often as the counter-attacking Chiefs made them pay dearly.
“We just needed to hang onto the ball a wee bit more, we were putting ourselves under pressure with our individual skill,” Kirwan said.
“When we hang onto the ball we can get through the phases and look good but when you hold onto the ball for two phases then turn it over you’re just putting yourselves under the pump. We need to have a bit more personal pride around our individual skill.”
Indeed when the Blues held onto the ball they looked incredibly dangerous, as demonstrated by Charles Piutau’s two thrilling tries in the space of three minutes which brought the visitors right back into the game at 21-12.
“That’s the sort of stuff that we can do, that was Blues rugby,” Kirwan said.
“Getting front foot ball doing what we do well and I thought we got right back in the game and then we got back down there and gave away a penalty and they scored straight after which was a momentum shift.
“It’s terribly frustrating when you know that if you can hang onto the ball you can create pressure. When you create pressure you can do heaps. We’ve got a little bit of work to do but I’m pretty happy that we’ll be right for next week.”
However it was not all bad news for the Blues. The visitors shored up their work around the ruck and Charlie Faumuina, Steven Luatua and Piri Weepu were all reintegrated back into the side.
“I thought set piece was good and I was really happy with the way the ruck went, we picked that up from last week but we just need to put the complete game together and I guess we’ll save that for next week hopefully.
“It was great to see Charles Piutau hitting form and we got Francis out there for 50 minutes, Charlie Faumuina got a start and Steven Luatua played for 50 when we were expecting 40 so they were real positives for us.”
The Blues may have lost all three of their pre-season hit-outs but Kirwan said there was no way he was reaching for the panic button.
“Not at all, I’m really confident in what we’re doing. Take 10 handling errors out of tonight and she’s a different game of football, we just need to make sure the players take their responsibility and each of those guys who turned over the ball need to take a good look at themselves for next week.
“You’ve got to be accurate at this level and it’s tough competition so if you don’t execute you’re going to get punished.”
Kirwan said his side had huge improvement in them ahead of their first competition game of the season, against the Highlanders in Dunedin on Saturday night.
“I think we’ve got 100 per cent improvement in us for next week. We’re waiting for the season and we need to get through now and execute properly so it’s a big week for us next week and we just need to be confident and have a go.”