If you're half asleep for the first 40 minutes, as the Blues were, meandering aimlessly about the field, don't be surprised to find yourself 24 points down. Where was the passion, the energy, the skill, the drive? There's something seriously wrong with the Blues pre-match preparation. They have some serious work to do.
The Highlanders were all action from the word 'go'. A cohesive team effort saw them gain the upper hand with the quicksilver, Aaron Smith, back to his best, pouncing on any opportunity and setting up opportunities for those around him. His judgment on the day was impeccable; to pick one example,. the wide pass to Ben Smith for a 24-0 lead at half time.
Not unexpectedly, the Blues came back full of fire and brimstone in the second half, but it's hard to transmute your lethargy into superior performance on the basis of what must have been a harsh team talk at half-time. Too late, as it turned out, the visitors applied sustained pressure and gave a display of controlled passing and handling along with effective work in broken play. F. Saili's individualist try was a gem. They came close, but the horse was, already, long gone and no amount of playing catch-up could bring him back. Their psychological preparation for the match had been too laid back and, perhaps, underpinned by over-confidence. Who knows?
Final Score: Highlanders 29; Blues 21.
(After watching Northern Hemisphere teams battle to scrum, I was pleasantly surprised to see professionally expert scrummaging from nearly all the sides playing in SA, OZ and NZ over the weekend. The poor scrums north of the equator surely can't be explained away by poor turf, though it played its negative role in proceedings. Referee Alain Rolland said it all in the Wales vs France game; 'The scrums are a mess.' They certainly were.)
Captained Rhodesia 1962 – 1969 Rector of Michaelhouse. (1978-1986)
"Rugby is a thinking game – its’ not a running or a kicking game. This mania for running with the ball and playing open rugby at all costs is stupid – you must adapt yourself to the circumstances and play to your strength"
Now 50 years later Niel Jardine writes for Frosty Rugby Fans ...