Blues head coach Sir John Kirwan said he was extremely proud of his team despite their 16-23 defeat to the Chiefs in Mount Maunganui on Saturday night.
The Blues gave their all against the defending champions in a fiercely intense battle, but they struggled to break through the water tight Chiefs defence as the home side strangled them.
“I told them how incredibly proud I was of them,” Kirwan said.
“I thought it was one of the better games we’ve played this season. We threw everything at them and that’s all I asked for. I asked them to go out there and really have a go and they did that,” he said.
Kirwan couldn’t question the courage and commitment his young team showed, but pointed to a number of individual errors as the difference between the two sides.
“We need to get better. They had 14 errors and we had 21 and that was the difference as well as the charge down but I’ve said to these guys that we want them to get out and play football and we certainly did that in the first half.
“We probably need to play with a little bit more balance, so kicking the ball a wee bit more at times but it’s all part of the learning. When a football teams gives it their all you can’t ask for any more. It’s a pretty upset changing room in there so we’re heading in the right direction.”
The Chiefs recorded their fourth successive victory over the Blues and moved to the top of the 2013 Investec Super Rugby ladder, and Kirwan was full of praise for the defending champs.
“They’re the yardstick, we threw a lot at them and I think any other side would have cracked. We had a lot of ball and we put their players under pressure but they hung in there, that’s why they’re a championship side.
“It was really good for our guys to understand that you’ve just got to keep at it and at the end it was a charge down and that’s what it’s like at this level. I was really proud of the way the guys stuck at it and in the end we could have drawn the football game and hung onto the ball.
“Would we have deserved it? That’s a question mark, but we certainly hung in there and showed a lot of guts and courage and kept playing football. Can we get better tactically? Sure, we need to do that and we need to do it by Friday night.”
Coming off three successive defeats, a win against the Highlanders at Eden Park on Friday night will be crucial if the Blues are to stay in contention for a playoff berth.