Tense Kirwan lauds mature Blues

Sun, 05 May 2013 12:33
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Blues coach John Kirwan hailed his team’s mature performance to see off the Stormers 18-17 at North Harbour Stadium on Friday.

Blues coach John Kirwan hailed his team’s ‘mature’ performance to see off the Stormers 18-17 at North Harbour Stadium on Friday.

Curbing their natural instincts to run the ball from anywhere, the Blues kept it tight and forced the Stormers into making errors from which Chris Noakes was able to capitalise, nailing six penalty kicks from seven attempts – the most by any Blues player.

Kirwan’s men adapted their gameplan brilliantly for the Stormers, refusing to kick the ball into touch and offer them the opportunity to utilise their powerful rolling maul.

They also fronted where it mattered most – in defence. Against a bruising forward pack, the Blues were a brick wall as they smashed into the opposition and won the contact battle.

Kirwan said he was thrilled with the maturity his side showed to grind out the win.

“I’m really, really proud of them to be honest – they just gutsed it out. I think it was a game that was played tactically well. We stayed down there and took our penalties,” Kirwan said.

“We talked about frustration all week which is what the Stormers do to you. We want to play football. This is a fantastic football side and they just shut you down,” he said.

“But we still managed to carry for five or six rucks and we knew if we could do that they’d maybe infringe and that’s what happened. We got 18 points out of that just by actually sticking to it, being disciplined, getting back and starting again.

“That’s showing real maturity from the boys because it’s a hard style of game when you’re Francis Saili, Charles Piutau and Rene Ranger.”

Leading 15-3 midway through the second half, two tries to Stormers captain Jean de Villiers in the final quarter brought the game to a nail-biting climax as the visitors closed the scores up to just one point.

With the siren sounding, the Stormers held the ball for more than three minutes as they tried to force the Blues into an error, but the Blues managed to hold on to record a brilliant victory.

Kirwan admitted it was a tense final few minutes in the coaches box.

“I didn’t really see much, my heart was pounding and I thought why am I doing this?” he said.

“So did I mate!” captain Ali Williams chimed in during the press conference.

“I took the radio headset off and stood up and just thought this is really up to them to tough it out, there’s not much we could do. I was just really proud of them. The discipline they showed for 43 minutes in the second half, just staying in the line, getting up and making their tackles was quite outstanding.”

In the build-up to Friday’s game, Kirwan said it was a season-defining game for his side against the Stormers as they looked to maintain their position in the top six.

They did just that as the Blues currently sit in fifth position on the overall ladder, but Kirwan knows it is back to work on Monday to prepare for another tough game.

“It’s vital for us to win every week because the pressure just mounts. If you come off a loss like we did last week, if we didn’t win tonight we’d be under the pump so it was a really critical game for us, just like the Stormers.

“De Villiers said during the week it was a critical game for them too but it doesn’t change the fact that we’ve got to come out here again next week and have another big game.”

The Blues face the Melbourne Rebels at Eden Park next Saturday.

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FIXTURE GMT VENUE
Wed, 31 May 2017
New Zealand U20 v Scotland U20 07h00 AIA Arena
England U20 v Samoa U20 07h00 Tbilisi
South Africa U20 v France U20 09h30 Tbilisi
Ireland U20 v Italy U20 09h30 AIA Arena
Argentina U20 v Georgia U20 12h00 Tbilisi
Australia U20 v Wales U20 14h30 Tbilisi
Fri, 02 June 2017
Blues v Reds 07h35 Auckland
Sat, 03 June 2017
Crusaders v Highlanders 02h35 Christchurch
Chiefs v Waratahs 05h05 Hamilton
NZ Barbarians v B&I Lions 07h35 Toll Stadium
Brumbies v Rebels 09h45 Canberra
Force v Hurricanes 11h35 Perth
Sun, 04 June 2017
Ireland U20 v Scotland U20 07h00 AIA Arena
Argentina U20 v France U20 07h00 Tbilisi
New Zealand U20 v Italy U20 09h30 AIA Arena
Australia U20 v Samoa U20 09h30 Tbilisi
South Africa U20 v Georgia U20 12h00 Tbilisi
England U20 v Wales U20 14h30 Tbilisi
RESULT SCORE
Sun, 28 May 2017
Lions v Kings 54 | 10
Sat, 27 May 2017
Jaguares v Brumbies 15 | 39
Munster v Scarlets 22 | 46
Sharks v Stormers 22 | 10
Wasps v Exeter Chiefs 20 | 23
Bulls v Hurricanes 20 | 34
Rebels v Crusaders 19 | 41
Highlanders v Waratahs 44 | 28
Sunwolves v Cheetahs 7 | 47
Fri, 26 May 2017
Reds v Force 26 | 40
Blues v Chiefs 16 | 16
Sun, 21 May 2017
Waratahs v Rebels 50 | 23
Sat, 20 May 2017
Kings v Brumbies 10 | 19
Munster v Ospreys 23 | 3
Wasps v Leicester Tigers 21 | 20
SUPER RUGBY
MORE LOGS
Pool AU
Team P W D L Pts
Brumbies 12 5 0 7 28
Waratahs 12 4 0 8 19
Force 12 4 0 8 17
Reds 12 3 0 9 16
Rebels 12 1 1 10 8
Pool NZ
Team P W D L Pts
Crusaders 13 13 0 0 59
Hurricanes 12 10 0 2 48
Highlanders 13 10 0 3 45
Chiefs 12 9 1 2 45
Blues 13 6 1 6 33
Pool SA1
Team P W D L Pts
Stormers 12 7 0 5 34
Cheetahs 13 3 0 10 16
Bulls 12 3 0 9 15
Sunwolves 12 1 0 11 7
Pool SA2
Team P W D L Pts
Lions 13 12 0 1 56
Sharks 13 9 1 3 42
Jaguares 12 5 0 7 24
Kings 12 4 0 8 19