McAlister answers Blues’ SOS

All Black utility back Luke McAlister has answered an SOS from the Blues, as they hope to salvage their faltering Super 14 campaign, when they face the Western Force in a crunch match in Perth on Friday.

After setting the pace for a large portion of the tournament, the Blues dropped back into the chasing pack (third place) when they went down 19-40 to the Bulls in Pretoria at the weekend.

They now face the very real threat of missing out on the play-offs altogether if they can’t snap a three-match losing streak at Subiaco Oval.

Blues captain Troy Flavell put on a brave face after the bruising physical confrontation with the Bulls, but acknowledged that his team will need to raise their game this week.

“Those handling errors really hurt us. In the second spell the Bulls managed to get some real line speed in their defence and caused us to cough up the ball. But it is the business end of the competition now and they played with desperation,” he said.

“We are still right in this competition, and have to keep our heads high. We have worked a lot this year on our preparation, our composure and our confidence. These are the words we use within our environment and that’s something we want to carry through onto the field against the Force.”

It was confirmed on Monday that McAlister had arrived in Perth to join the Blues, a desperate bid to turn their fortunes around.

McAlister, who has been sidelined since March 31 when he was forced off with a fractured cheekbone against the Chiefs, is crucial to the Blues’ cause.

In his absence the Blues have won just one match and seen their advantage at the top of the table evaporate.

They have also had their try-supply dry up.

In the first 10 weeks they scored 34 tries, but have managed to add just three more tries in the last few weeks. Against the Bulls their only try came after the hooter for full-time had sounded (with the score at 40-12) and the Bulls finally let their guard down.

Critics say that much of the Blues’ creative trouble in recent weeks can be attributed to the absence of McAlister, a key figure in their attack and a player who was in outstanding form before he was injured.


365 Digital

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