The Blues suffered their first loss of the season, going down to the Bulls 21-28 this afternoon.
After two thrilling bonus point victories, Sir John Kirwan’s men fell flat against a fired up Bulls side as the Africans bashed the Blues to score their first ever victory at Eden Park.
The spark just wasn’t there today. The passes didn’t quite stick and the 25,112 fans that came along to Eden Park on a glorious Sunday afternoon filed out of the stadium with furrowed brows, wondering how the Blues failed to find their rhythm.
There were changes aplenty to the starting XV and the combinations took some time to click. Down 15-6 at the break, the Blues fought their way back and took the lead early in the second stanza, but the Bulls hit back to grind out their third successive win of the season.
In his first start for the Blues, Baden Kerr slotted two penalty goals to give his side an early 6-3 lead.
The Blues did a magnificent job of halting the Bulls’ vaunted rolling maul but while they were rock solid up front, the Blues conceded two soft tries out wide.
Springbok winger Akona Ndungane claimed a high ball, and from the ensuing ruck the ball was then spun wide as Lionel Mapoe crashed over the whitewash.
After creating the first try, it was Ndungane who scored the second, finishing off some sustained pressure to go over in the opposite corner as the Bulls took a handy 15-6 lead at the break.
Kirwan would surely have read the riot act to his troops following an error ridden first half performance and his side came out fired up in the second stanza.
Kerr nailed another penalty kick three minutes into the second half before the Blues took the lead following a superb try to Charles Piutau.
The forwards bashed their way towards the try line and Frank Halai came within inches of the line, before Francis Saili threw a lovely cut out ball for Piutau who came back on the angle and beat two defenders to score.
However the Blues’ lead was short lived as Bulls flanker Arno Botha scored two minutes later.
Rene Ranger’s superb solo try with four minutes to go gave the raucous Eden Park crowd hope that they may just snatch victory as the Blues closed to within four points, but a Steyn penalty kick on fulltime clinched a 28-21 victory for the Bulls.
The Blues now have a week off with the bye before taking on the Waratahs in Sydney on March 24.