Blues captain Mealamu bottled after victory

DUNCAN JOHNSTONE
Last updated 10:10 11/03/2012
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Blues players celebrate after winning their round 18 match against the Brumbies at Canberra Stadium.
Keven Mealamu
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BOTTLE THROWING: Keven Mealamu in action against the Bulls.

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Blues skipper Keven Mealamu was hit by a bottle thrown by a fan as his side beat the Bulls in Pretoria to get their Super Rugby campaign back on track.

The incident happened at the final whistle with Mealamu sitting proudly on the bench after being subbed off late as the Blues won 29-23 to halt a two-game losing streak and notch their first win of the season in the most difficult of circumstances.

"He's a bit annoyed but the most important thing is he is OK," Blues coach Pat Lam said.

All Blacks hooker Mealamu confronted the man after the incident when he jumped the fence from the stadium onto the playing field.

Lam said police had identified the culprit and it had also been caught on camera.

"It's in the police hands now," Lam said.

The off-field drama took the shine off a crucial performance from the Blues after they had lost to the Crusaders and Chiefs in a shoddy start to their season back in New Zealand.

They played with purpose and attitude to make things right against the Bulls at Loftus Versfeld.

Rookie first-five Gareth Anscombe scored all of his team's points on debut, including two tries.

Lam was naturally thrilled to see his side front up at the intimidating ground.

"I'm very proud of the effort," Lam said.

"We should have won the first game against the Crusaders and last week we were disappointing against the Chiefs.

"It's nine years since the Blues won their first game on tour in South Africa and Pretoria is never easy.

"We came up with a game plan we made in Sydney on the way over and selected accordingly.

"It's a big win for us and gets us started.

"Our kicking game and defence were very important. We were poor in the contact areas last week. It was all about attitude and being ruthless here and the boys committed extremely well."

Lam was delighted to see Anscombe slot in so comfortably into what has been a problem position for the Blues.

"It was an outstanding effort. We knew he had talent, we just wanted to nurture that a bit," Lam said.

Lam brushed aside the heavy penalty count dished out by referee Steve Walsh, saying all the whistlemen were looking to make their mark and lay down the new approaches at breakdowns and scrums and it was a matter of adjusting accordingly.

The Blues face an anxious wait over wing Rene Ranger who got a yellow card and then a white card to go on report after crunching into his opposite Bjorn Basson, who was diving over for the second of his two tries with the last act of the match.

Lam said Ranger had simply been desperately wanting to force Basson into touch to avoid the Bulls scoring and notching a bonus point in defeat.

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