Winning becomes a habit but unfortunately, as the Blues and their fans are so painstakingly discovering, so does losing.
And the Blues don’t seem any closer to kicking that habit after they suffered their sixth successive defeat, going down to defending champions the Reds 11-23 at Eden Park tonight.
In a competition as tough as Super Rugby where the margins for error are so small, the Blues can ill afford to give away the ball as much as they did tonight without expecting to come off second best.
A malfunctioning lineout, lack of urgency at the breakdown and poor ball security all conspired to bring about their demise, with a lack of tactical nous central to their downfall.
With heavy showers dousing the playing surface of Eden Park prior to kick-off, the match was always going to come down to who could control the ball best and apply pressure to the opposition, and the Blues made the cardinal sin of straying from their game plan and playing too much high-risk rugby in their own half.
“Once again we’re disappointed,î Blues head coach Pat Lam said.
“As the conditions caved it becomes quite a simple game, you’ve got to play field position and it’s going to come down to who makes the least mistakes. It was quite a messy game but you really want to get on the front foot first and get ahead and right from the start we were chasing the game.
“I can see the guys working hard out there but tactically it was poor. I thought trying to play rugby when it’s been bucketing down in our own half was pretty much suicide so it’s something we have to address.”
The Reds couldn’t have asked for a better start as they scored their opening try with less than 60 seconds on the clock.
Reclaiming the ball from their kick-off, a pinpoint perfect Ben Lucas cross-field kick found lock Rob Simmons ranging out wide, and from the ensuing ruck Digby Ioane burrowed his way over to celebrate his 50th Reds game in style with a try.
The Blues looked shell shocked and it wasn’t long before the visitors crossed for their second, once again targeting the Blues’ right flank as Luke Morahan got on the outside of George Moala, threw a dummy and slid over the whitewash for an easy five pointer.
When former Blues Wider Development Group player Mike Harris slotted the conversion to give his side a 12-0 lead, the punter who boldly put $10,000 on the line in favour of a Blues victory must have been squirming in his seat.
Indeed so too were the meagre crowd of just 12,111 who braved the miserable conditions at Eden Park to faithfully cheer their side on.
Their chants and cheers were soon rewarded however when stand-in captain Luke Braid crashed over for a try after 24 minutes.
Hi decision to go for the touchline and lineout from a penalty rather than take the three points at goal reaped rewards as he came off the back of a rolling maul to barge past two defenders on his way to the line.
First five-eighths Gareth Anscombe could not convert the try, but a penalty 10 minutes form the break narrowed the deficit to 8-12.
The Reds started the second half in much the same fashion as they kicked off the first, scoring a try just three minutes after the break through winger Dom Shipperley.
The Blues began to dominate possession and territory as they tried desperately to end their run of losses, but all they had to show for it was a Gareth Anscombe penalty kick as the Reds condemned them to yet another loss.
The defeat may be compounded further by injuries, with Rudi Wulf leaving the field clutching at a sore shoulder and Ma’a Nonu suffering a quad injury.
The Blues now face the Hurricanes at Westpac Stadium on Friday night.