Blues

Blues not looking so blue

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Blues captain Troy Flavell is riding on a confidence wave at the moment since his Super 14 side’s thrilling last second win over the Brumbies in front of a stunned Carisbrook crowd in Canberra on Saturday.


It may have been constructed on shaky foundations but Flavell believes the Blues back-from-the-brink 17-15 win over the Brumbies has set a solid base for the remainder of their Super 14 rugby campaign.


Fly-half Isa Nacewa nailed the match-winning conversion of prop Saimone Taumoepeau’s try that earned the team a four-point reward that evidently meant plenty to the players given their reaction.


The entire Blues squad swamped the pivot after the wide angled kick passed between the uprights, the reaction reminiscent of the scenes following their last Super rugby title success in 2003.


“There was a lot of hugging going around,” Flavell said.


“It felt good and with that comes a lot of confidence especially for the younger guys.


“It sets us up platform-wise for the rest of the season.”


Flavell admitted the Blues’ third successive win over the Brumbies was not their greatest effort, but the ability to keep their nerve when offered a late opportunity to salvage more than a bonus point would stand the side in good stead.


“In the 80th minute, guys managed to stay composed and show a lot of character and clinch the win. In the same circumstances last year we would probably have lost that game,” Flavell said.


“For a while there, it wasn’t looking good and even though there was a bit of burglary there the guys will feed off it again this week.”


Blues coach David Nucifora, former coach of the Brumbies, maintained he derived more pleasure from the team effort.


“For us to come from behind and play out the full game and have the composure to do what we did to close out that game – that was the most satisfying thing,” said Nucifora.


“This team is starting to do things they haven’t done in the past.


“To keep their heads, work their way back in in the last five minutes and then execute and score the try. . . ”


Nucifora said the coaching staff had drummed in the need for improved individual composure during the pre-season and those lessons were paying dividends.


“Composure comes with preparation,” the Blues coach said.


“If you believe and know what you’ve got to do when you’re under pressure, you find it a lot easier to do it. We’ve worked hard on that.”


The Blues now face the Hurricanes in Wellington on Saturday, and the one area Nucifora will be working harder on leading into the third round clash is discipline.


Flavell, nortorious for his tendency to get on the wrong side of the referee’s whsitle, needs his troops to make amends with their penalty count against them.


At one stage the penalty count was 10-2 in favour of the Brumbies and the indiscreet visitors could be thankful Julian Huxley was not his usual accurate self.


“It was a cause of concern. The number of penalties against us never let us get a rhythm in our game. We defended very well and we needed to,” Nucifora admitted.


“Some of the decisions you could debate but at the end of the day (referee Jonathan) Kaplan saw them that way and we have to deal with it.”


Meanwhile, Nucifora was looking forward to the clash with last year’s beaten finalists, saying it represented the end point of the first stage of the campaign.


“When we looked at the draw and saw the first three (Crusaders, Brumbies, Hurricanes) we knew how difficult it was going to be,” Nucifora said.


“If we can get through Saturday night we have a string of home games.


“This is the last piece of the first block for us.”


Nucifora expects to have a full complement to select from after midfielders Sam Tuitupou and Isaia Toeava were said to be recovering well from knocks sustained against the Crusaders.


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