Blues not dead yet, but failure to win on the road a major issue
James Mortimer 05 Apr 2014 Getty Images
On the road, things are tougher simply due to the lack of familiarity for a team.
Different time zones, foreign languages and other factors conspire against travelling outfits, although every now and again the long journey away from home can boost a team.
Indeed, the very best are those who win on the road with regularity.
The All Blacks boast the finest travelling record of all, winning a remarkable 70 percent of matches away from New Zealand.
Since 1903 only 67 teams have managed to lower the colours of the current World Champions while living out of their suitcases.
A franchise that wishes to have their name engraved on the Investec Super Rugby trophy needs similar success.
The Chiefs won 10 from 16 during their championship campaigns.
The Blues over this time have sunk to 11 straight defeats away from home, in 23 fixtures stretching back four years they have only won three – against the Hurricanes in 2013 and Brumbies and Bulls in 2012.
So does that mean season over for Sir John Kirwan and his troops?
Not exactly, in 44 matches so far this year only eight teams have won away from home.
In Super Rugby, it is immensely difficult to travel; it wouldn’t be a stretch to suggest that no other competition in the world forces such arduous travelling schedules on their competing teams.
And then there was the opposition.
The Brumbies have confirmed that their 2013 runners-up medallion was no fluke, they are a cast iron championship competitor who possess a defensive game that has become quite the menace this season.
Even injuries seem to mean little to the side from ACT.
Meanwhile their burgeoning Wallaby representation – they tripled their international contingent last season thanks to their Super Rugby heroics – will once again mena the likes of Ben Mowen, Ben Alexander and Pat McCabe will probably be among the first names on Ewen McKenzie’s list.
McCabe especially was a key difference between the sides, despite the All Blacks and X-Factor in the Blues backline, the gritty dedication and pumping legs of the Brumbies midfielder was too much for the defence of Jerome Kaino’s troops.
Add to this the vastly educated boots of Jesse Mogg, Nic White and Matt Toomua, compared to an unflattering kicking game from the Blues, saw the men from Canberra put together a wet weather master class.
Such displays are usually the province of New Zealand teams.
With 16 competition points the Blues are still in the hunt, while three of the sides above them are still to undertake their major tours.
They will have a bye to think things over, before four make or break matches – home games against the Waratahs and Reds sandwiched with away fixtures in Wellington (Round 10) and Hamilton (Round 14).
The Brumbies sensed their chance to lay a marker and did so in a clash between two franchises that have won five trophies between them.
The men from Canberra look likely to add a third to their cabinet based on early proceedings, but an elusive fourth Super Rugby championship for the Blues is still quite some way off.
And they will need to win on the road before the status quo changes.
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