Embarrassed Umaga tries to keep the faith
REACTION: Blues coach Tana Umaga put on a brave face as he searched for something positive to say about his under-performing side, following their 40-63 loss to the Sharks.
Through five matches, the side have scored 153 points, just eight fewer than the pace-setting Hurricanes.
However, they've conceded 203 and have the second-worst points differential in the competition, with their -50 better only than the Sunwolves on -108.
"You can say the effort was there," Umaga offered as an explanation, after the Blues slumped to their fourth loss in five matches.
"Scoring 40 is good.
"But leaking 60 is not.
"It's not just a system thing, it's an individual thing.
"We know we can score points, it's how we stop them.
We've got to make sure we're really good at that and really focus on that," Umaga said after the match.
"Errors, discipline, letting them off when we've put pressure on them, and letting them get into spots that make it difficult for us," he said.
"Obviously it's an embarrassing one for us.
"We've got to get it right, but it's within us. I have total faith in that."
The Blues have fallen to a 1-4 record through their first five matches of 2018 and while they still have 11 to play, their campaign is hanging by a fraying thread.
The Blues travel to neighbouring Hamilton on Saturday to face the Chiefs for the second time in six weeks, having lost the first encounter 27-21.
Blues captain James Parsons said the side were "extremely confident" heading into the match against the Sharks, which made the loss even more frustrating.
The Blues leaked points early to the Sharks and trailed 7-26 at the break. It was the third time in as many weeks and fourth time in five games that the Blues had allowed their opponents to score more than 20 points in the opening 40 minutes.
Parsons said that kind of start just wasn't good enough in such a tough competition.
"We can't give teams that much of a headstart. We've got to find that 80-minute performance.
"Our systems don't need to change, we just need to execute them better.
"I sound like a broken record and I won't apologise for it because at the end of the day, that's all we've got to do."
Sources: AFP & nzherald.co.nz