The Tight Five: What we've learned after the Blues South African Safari

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James Mortimer     17 Mar 2014     Getty Images

When those backs run…

Charles Piutau and Frank Halai showed on more than one occasion why they are rated as potential long term All Blacks, while Benji Marshall and George Moala only continued to show why the Blue backline is rated as one of the more lethal battalions in Super Rugby.

The issue was the Blues structure never allowed their dangerous ball carriers into the game until deep into the 50-60 minute window, and while a sparking five tries were scored in the last 25 minutes by the visitors, three points in nearly an hour of rugby won’t win the three-time winners too many matches.

Players need to do their roles

The Blues on paper generate so much excitement that their strike players appear to get over enthusiastic at times, often their big forwards station themselves out wide, and while this tactic was popular and effective with the All Blacks under Sir Graham Henry, this approach hasn’t worked for the tourists against equally big men from the Sharks and Lions.

When the forwards put a blanket over themselves and the Blues backs began running hard and straight, they began to cause massive issues for a Lions team that put on 20 unanswered points in the first 45 minutes – a period where the visitors were unable to register a single point.

When the Blues structure holds they look quite the outfit.

Discipline is key

The Blues appeared to do enough over 80 minutes to win the match, but ebb and flow and officiating don’t decide matches, but unfortunately yellow cards are a massive blow that often cost team’s matches.

Charlie Faumuina and Tom Donnelly left the Blues two men short for a quarter of the match, and while a stirring comeback looked on the cards, the tourists still had to chase the game after the Lions blistering beginning.

A tough part is out of the way

The Blues have two matches at Eden Park against the Cheetahs and Highlanders in the coming fortnight, while they have a bye in Round Nine.

If Sir John’s troops can put together a couple of positive results in the next few rounds they will be in the hunt, and the coaching team and players will hope that familiar and warm beds will prove to be the tonic.

It is early in the season, but the Blues are now placed 11th and need a burst to keep them in the title chase.

Offence needs to match defence

The Blues attack matches the Hurricanes as the most potent so far in 2014 Super Rugby, scoring 13 tries, while the Auckland based franchise is one of only four teams to have registered two offensive bonus points.

The defensive clout of the Blues will need to improve however, they have let in 14 tries to be ranked 14th in the competition so far, the ability to cut loose with five tries in 30 minutes will want to be matched with a tackling screen with the same verve.