Blues

How Blues weathered ‘inconsistency’ storm

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The Stormers, the epitome of inconsistency on the rugby field, can look towards their opponents this week, the Blues, on how to a find a cure to this dreaded disease.

In the last nine rounds the Stormers had the “perfect” lose-win-lose-win… record.

It is a disease which hampered the Blues for some time, till they rectified it this year.

So when the two sides meet in a Super 14 crunch match at Newlands on Saturday, the Stormers may well want to look to the Blues for a cure.

Blues coach David Nucifora, speaking ahead of his team’s encounter with the Stormers, said the key is to focus on their own game and not become overly concerned with the opposition.

“The big thing for this team [the Blues] has been to turn around the fact that we’ve been an inconsistent side,” he said.

“I think that is something the Stormers have been accused of, being inconsistent. We were probably a lot like them – we had a lot of good players, but we struggled to put consecutive good performances together and we’ve managed to do that this year.

“We’ve managed to get our players to play to a certain standard each week and consistently play well this year,” Nucifora added.

However, despite their erratic form, the Blues coach is not ready to dismiss the Stormers.

“There’s simply no easy games [in the Super 14],” he said.

“We’re not silly, we don’t think we’re coming here and they’re just going to give us the points.

“We’re focussing on what we’re going to do. We’ll obviously try to play to our standard and hopefully that’s good enough to come away with the points,” he added.

Having lost to the Sharks last week, only the Blues’ second defeat of the season, Nucifora expects the Stormers to have taken note of what their compatriots did to end the Kiwi outfit’s victory march.

“Yes, in a sense the Stormers’ style is different from that of the Sharks, but we’re expecting much the same.

“It will be another fairly physical confrontation and I’d be surprised if it wasn’t.

“The Stormers do play a bit more expansive, but in saying that the Stormers will have watched how the Sharks played and I think it will be a bit of a mix, a bit of both.

“They’ll take us on up front, which is fine with us, and I’m sure they’ll also use the ball if they get the quality ball they’re looking for, which is fine by us as well.”

However, Nucifora said his team is not too concerned about what tactics the home side might employ.

“Our focus this week is more on what we want to do, how we want to play.

“We’ve played a brand of football that’s been fairly successful for us and we want to make sure that our focus is on us, not really about the Stormers this week.”

He also revealed that the Blues won’t try to pull a proverbial rabbit out of the hat and come up with some outlandish new tactics. They will what they know best.

“We’re in Round 12 [on the Super 14 competition] and teams have established their styles by now, so there won’t be too many surprises from us.

“We feel we’ve got a fairly balanced game – we’ve got a good pack of forwards, the set pieces have been reasonably strong and all year they’ve improved.

“If we can win good enough ball we’d like to use the football, so there won’t be too many surprises from us,” he added.

The Blues coach also made it clear that to realise their dream of home ground advantage in the play-offs they will need to win all three their remaining matches – against the Stormers this week, the Bulls next week and the Western Force.

One slip could cost them a home semi-final.

“The stakes at this end of the season are always high. What is nice for us is that we’re sitting at the right end of the points table, which is great.

“However, it is obviously still fairly tight and we want to try and achieve a home semi-final. If we play well enough we believe that we’ll come away with the points on Saturday.”

By Jan de Koning

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