Nucifora not happy with Blues play

Blues coach David Nucifora is relieved after his team beat the Bulls in Auckland making it back to back victories over South African sides but they are parts of the game that he is not happy with.

The match was another nail biter for the Blues and was won by a late drop goal from Nick Evans who returned to the team after being ruled out just ahead of last week’s match against the Stormers.

One would expect that Nucifora would be happy with getting his second “get out of jail” card. Instead he was seething over perceived injustices at the breakdown and scrum at the media session after the match.

Asked about the breakdown rulings where the Bulls were seemingly prepared to concede a succession of short-arm penalties to slow the Blues’ ball down, Nucifora let rip on a tactic that all of the South African sides use against his team.

“Pretty frustrating, I’ve got to say. There’s obviously ways teams try to play us, and you have discussions and try to make sure ball is freed up and allowed to be played.” he told Rugbyheaven.

“We need to be better ourselves to make sure that doesn’t come into it, as far as winning the collisions better and clearing our ball better.

“Against these big South African sides where the collision area is quite difficult to win, once that collision is not won it becomes 50-50 ball. Then you’re really at the mercy of the whistle and how he views it. And that’s not a good place to be.”

“In all honesty I felt the [full] penalties should have come out sooner than they did. The number of short-arm penalties in the 22 got a little out of hand for my liking.”

Nucifora wasn’t too bothered about the injury to tighthead prop John Afoa but lamented the rulings that went against his side at scrum time.

“We’re more concerned with [loosehead prop] Tony Woodcock. He obviously can’t scrummage any more,” said Nucifora.

“Whatever he’s done to be penalised the number of times he was, that takes a lot of momentum away from us. We got penalised more times in the scrum tonight than we’d been penalised all year.

“The scrum was disappointing for us in the way it was managed.”

Speaking about the match itself Nucifora conceded that his team was its own worst enemy at times against a desperate Bulls side who arguably played their best match this season.

Nucifora said the game was too stop-start on the first half, lurching from set piece to set piece, and this played right into the big South Africans’ hands.

“That became a real problem for us. Teams want to get off the line and shut down our space, and they obviously push that to the limit.

“We should have been smarter and varied our play a bit more and worked harder at trying to keep the continuity of the game up.

“Both times when we scored we let them straight back into it by allowing them to come into our quarter, get lineouts and let them drive at us. As well all know, that’s one of their strengths.

“We’re not happy with the way we’re playing at the moment,” said the Blues coach.

“We need to be playing better football. I suppose the positive for us is we’re not playing anywhere near our peak and we’re still managing to win games.

“We’re going through a patch at the moment where we’re not near our peak but we’ve managed to win the last fortnight.

“We know we’ve got to step it up and improve over coming weeks.”

The Blues are currently third after losing two matches (Sharks & Force) and head for Sydney this week to face the Waratahs. Following the Tahs the Blues face the Brumbies and then they have the bye.

The Blues will know that the days of the riding their luck are numbered and will need to put in some big performances soon as they could easily drop out of the top four.

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