Another Sunday afternoon rolls around and SG and Jules are kicking back at the new Cone Stadium, supping on some fine Kilkennys and settling in to watch the Chiefs take on the Blues at Albany.
Officially it's a home game for the Blues but given the fact that Albany was the Chiefs home ground last season (remember the Chiefs were made up of Waikato/Nth Harbour last season rather than the Waikato/Counties combo they have this time around) it's bloody hard to say that the Blues had the advantage in support, especially as the game wore on and the Cow Bells got louder!
At Cone stadium we weren't too concerned about who won, but we did have a soft spot for the underdog Chiefs, especially as (we didn't want to admit it last weekend but we are happy to now!), the Chiefs are playing some attractive rugby this season and some staunch defense. (Not to mention the fact that we want to get Fitzy fired up!)
The Blues came out on fire and opened up a 15 point lead in the first 10 minutes or so, but to the Chiefs credit they stuck to the task and fought back and took the lead, closing the score up to 22-20 at the half.
By half time we had the commentators saying that "the Blues were scoring from set pieces, and the Chiefs from almost every opportunity". We would agree totally with that and thats certainly what the Chiefs did last week against the Crusaders too. Of course the possession stakes were ever so slightly more even last week, just take a look at the stats table below to see the wealth of possession that the Blues had, and failed to capitalise on, the ratio half time stats were pretty similar to how it ended up.
It was certainly a scrappy game in places, and there were lots of 50/50 plays that went the way of the players that wanted it more. Astonishingly this was usually the Blues, but despite major domination of possession, it didn't seem to do them much good as they blew chance after chance to score!
Both teams scored 4 tries and therefore grab a bonus point and the Blues should get another for finishing within 7 of the Chiefs.
A couple of damn stupid things that stood out:
1) The Chiefs shortening the lineout, when they had just lost 2 against the throw. Did they think that this was going to make it harder for the blues to target the jumper?!? We break live to Leo La'faele (don't blame me for not being able to spell it - the commentators couldn't even pronounce it!). "Heeem! There is only one jumper. I wonder where the ball is going to in this lineout?"
2a) Troy Flavell going to ground whilst raking back the ball - I don't know how many penalties he gave away the whole game, but you wouldn't want him for your Fantasy Rugby team!
2b) That incredibly bad pass in the back line from Troy (call me "drop-kick"!) Flavell the gave Tunivula no chance at all to attone for his back-line sins when he was unmarked outside, 10 metres from the try line.
And a couple of comments to the respective captains on post match interview etiquette:
firstly to Glenn Taylor: Yellow fizzy coming out your nose would not be a good look on National (pay to view) television, so maybe you could sip that really stanch looking pineapple soft drink after the interview!
and to Craig Dowd: Boy was he sour to lose this one! Throwing your toys is one thing, but throwing the toy box could be down right dangerous! We agree that your team should have won the game with that huge possession advantage but you could have given some credit to the Chiefs awesome defense, I imagine the tackle count for the Chiefs forward pack must be huge, given they defended 103 Blues rucks and only conceeded four tries.
Great effort by the Chiefs, they can go into their BYE next week feeling pretty good. The Blues must pick themselves up to come down to the Toddfather's house and face the mighty Crusaders at home.
TRIES Ranby (2), Leaupepe, Karauna
KICKING Jackson (3 Con, 1 Pen), Crighton (1 Pen)
TRIES Taylor (2), Howlett, Little
KICKING Taylor (1 Con), Aa'i (1 Drop)