25 Mar

Almost Blue
by Rob Wallace
25 Mar 2002

An electrifying performance from Carlos Spencer at fullback was the highlight as the Blues took an almost satisfactory 37-30 win over the Chiefs. But it wasn’t a commanding performance by any means and they’ll need to play a lot better to beat the Warratahs on Friday.

There were some positives – the front row was solid, the lineout impressive and the pack looked cohesive and organised with Maimuri in the tight and Flavell having more room to roam as a blindside. Flavell can really dominate a game from blindside, and with a couple of hard working locks covering the tight stuff the pack looks impressive. However after Maimuri left with injury there was a lack of control up front and the pattern fell apart a bit. Justin Collins had a good return to S12 rugby, and had a great battle with Marty Holah.

Arlidge was tidy and organised at 1st5, and his use of the skip pass gave the threequarters more room to work with, while Spencer was brilliant from fullback and played a role in all 4 tries, entering the line at pace and breaking the defence. Howlett, as usual, was very involved in play, and popped up everywhere.

There were some negatives: Cribb needs to learn to pass early when he has a top class finisher like Howlett or Muliaina outside him, rather than try to beat the man himself. And the forwards seemed to forget their coaching later in the game, becoming too loose and disorganised.

Overall, the Blues get a pass mark but are yet to show the commanding form that they will need to beat teams in the top 4, and they will need to do this to make the semis. The promise is there, the experiment of Spencer at fullback looks very interesting and there are signs that with a fully fit squad the pack may yet deliver the goods.

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