by Rob Wallace
17 Apr 2001
The Blues lurched out of S12 semifinal contention with this weeks 23-26 loss to the Cats , but there were some promising signs there as to the way forward.
Taylor brought a much needed solidity to the pack, and improved the mauling skills shown by the forwards. He also added another voice toward leadership of the team and it was a shame that he was subbed for the ineffective Reichelmann early in the second half.
Flavell also flourished on the blindside, working hard in the tight and making his tackles. Thw work ethic of the pack was good, marred only by the error rate.
James Arlidge had a great debut at 1st five-eights – he looked calm and organised, kicked accurately and took a lovely intercept to run in the first try. The backline didn’t run quite as smoothly, but the poor weather contributed to this as well.
For the first time this season, the Blues looked organised on the field and seemed to have a plan as to how to play the game.
But they managed to blow a 23-9 lead and none of the substitutes improved things. Several players in the Blues are now past their use-by date – Dowd – who has had a poor season in all respects, Brooke – whose enthusiasm has gone, and Reichelmann who no longer has the skillset to play blindside nor is dominating enough at lock.
Oliver’s time is up too. He has failed too often, and while not absolving the players from this year’s mess, his selection policy has been odd and there has been little evidence of any clear tactical approach.
In other games, the Chiefs lost 24-8 to the Sharks, but Dion Muir had an outstanding game, while Ranby continued to show the class that should earn him higher honours this season.
The Crusaders were thumped 49-28 by the Stormers, while the Hurricanes kept their hopes alive with a 35-33 win over the Highlanders.by