Kirwan accepts blame for Blues' loss to Bulls

19:36, Mar 10 2013
Blues v Hurricanes
But dad!...Piri Weepu's daughter Keira doesn't look too happy about sharing in her fathers 100th Super Rugby game celebrations.
Blues v Hurricanes
Blues No 8 Peter Saili breaks away during the win over the Hurricanes.
Blues v Hurricanes
Frank Halai shows his control to touch down for a try in the Blues opening win over the Hurricanes.
Blues v Hurricanes
Francis Saili makes a break during the Blues win over the Hurricanes.
Ali Williams
Ali Williams lays down the law to Chris Noakes (centre) and George Moala.
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Luke Braid celebrates during the Blues win over the Crusaders.
Rene Ranger
Rene Ranger breaks the line for the Blues.
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Blues fans show support for their team.
Blues vs Bulls
Liaki Moli of The Blues gets caught in a ruck during the Super Rugby game between The Blues and The Bulls.
Blues vs Bulls
Charlie Faumuina on the attack for the Blues.
Blues vs Bulls
Francis Saili looks to pass for the Blues.
Blues vs Bulls
Jurgen Visser of the Bulls and Marty McKenzie of the Blues compete for the ball.
Blues 2013 Season
Brodie Retallick and his cousin Culum Retallick during the round seven Super Rugby match between the Chiefs and the Blues at Bay Park.
Blues 2013 Season
Ali Williams of the Blues wins lineout ball during the round seven Super Rugby match between the Chiefs and the Blues at Bay Park.
Blues 2013 Season
Luke Braid of the Blues charges forward during the round seven Super Rugby match between the Chiefs and the Blues at Bay Park.
Blues 2013 Season
Rene Ranger of the Blues is tipped upside down during the round seven Super Rugby match between the Chiefs and the Blues at Bay Park.
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Anthony Boric prepares for the tackle during the Blues' win over the Highlanders.
Blues v Highlanders
Ali Williams and Kevin Mealamu discuss a plan during the Blues' 29-18 win over the Highlanders.
Blues v Highlanders
Former teammates Piri Weepu and Ma'a Nonu share a laugh on field.
Blues v Highlanders
Steven Luatua dives over for a try against the Highlanders.
Blues v Highlanders
Piri Weepu celebrates scoring his second try against the Highlanders.
Blues v Hurricanes
James Parson gets past Beauden Barrett to score for the Blues.
Blues v Hurricanes
Piri Weepu gets a pass off as the Blues beat the Hurricanes at Eden Park.
Blues v Hurricanes
Blues captain Ali Williams has a laugh with his side on top.
Blues v Hurricanes
Rene Ranger, Charles Piutau and Andre Taylor clash trying to grab a high ball.
Blues v Reds
Kevin Mealamu hands the ball off to Piri Weepu during the Blues loss to the Reds in Queensland.
Blues v Reds
Rene Ranger tries to fend off the tackle of Jake Schatz.
Blues v Reds
Chris Noakes gets a pass away during the loss to the Reds.
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Albert Nikora is tackled by James Slipper and Rob Simmons.
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Steven Luatua of the Blues charges into the Stormers' Andries Bekker during their clash at North Harbour Stadium.
Blues season 2013
Bryan Habana of the Stormers is smashed by the Blues defence during their Round 12 clash.
Blues season 2013
Blues second row Culum Retallick takes a breather during the Super Rugby clash with the Stormers at North Harbour Stadium.
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Luke Braid jumps over the tackle from the Rebels' Mitch Inman.
Blues v Cheetahs
Rebel Scott Higginbotham looks to kick the ball ahead against Jamison Gibson-Park.
Blues v Cheetahs
Steven Luatua fends off the tackle of Rebel Bryce Hegarty.
Blues v Cheetahs
Francis Saili is mobbed by teammates after scoring a try during the Blues' win over the Cheetahs.
Blues v Cheetahs
Frank Halai dives over for a try against the Cheetahs.
Blues gallery 2013
George Moala charges into the Crusaders defence.
Blues gallery 2013
Frank Halai on the charge against the Crusaders.
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Culum Retallick makes a pass for the Blues against the Crusaders.
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Piri Weepu is closely watched by opposite number Andy Ellis.
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George Moala in action against the Brumbies.
Blues gallery 2013
Rene Ranger on the charge for the Blues against the Brumbies.
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Charles Piutau makes a charge against the Brumbies.
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Ali Williams (centre) lays down the law to his players.
Blues season 2013
Jackson Willison of the Blues is brought down during the round 16 Super Rugby clash with the Highlanders in Dunedin.
Blues season 2013
Blues captain Ali Williams and coach Sir John Kirwan discuss their disappointing loss to the Highlanders.
Blues season 2013
Anthony Boric of the Blues competes with Mose Tuiali'i of the Highlanders in the lineout.
Blues season 2013
Frank Halai makes the hard yards for the Blues against the Highlanders.
Blues gallery
Steven Luatua of the Blues in action during the Super Rugby match between The Sharks and Blues from Growthpoint Kings Park.
Blues gallery
Jean Deysel of the Sharks continues play without his shirt during the Super Rugby match between The Sharks and Blues from Growthpoint Kings Park.
Blues gallery
Frank Halai of the Blues goes over for a try during the Super Rugby match between The Sharks and Blues from Growthpoint Kings Park.
Blues gallery
Chris Noakes of the Blues in action during the Super Rugby match between The Sharks and Blues from Growthpoint Kings Park.
Blues gallery
George Moala of the Blues in action during the Super Rugby match between The Sharks and Blues from Growthpoint Kings Park.
Blues gallery
Francis Saili of the Blues fends off Philip van der Walt of the Cheetahs.
Blues gallery
Steven Luatua of the Blues goes for the high ball during their match against the Cheetahs.
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Francis Saili of the Blues in action during their game against the Cheetahs.
Blues gallery
Frank Halai of the Blues in action during their game against the Cheetahs.
Blues v Chiefs
Departing Ali Williams shares a laugh with coach Sir John Kirwan after his last game for the Blues.
Blues v Chiefs
Marty McKenzie in action for the Blues during their season finale loss to the Chiefs.
Blues v Chiefs
Piri Weepu gets a flying pass away during the Blues' loss to the Chiefs.
Blues v Chiefs
Charles Piutau chases the ball down to score for the Blues.
Blues v Chiefs
Kane Barrett leaves the field after a red card against the Chiefs.

Blues coach Sir John Kirwan had his hand up the highest when the blame was being apportioned for his side's first defeat of this Super Rugby season.

The Blues were beaten 28-21 by a typically efficient and muscular Bulls side in front of 25,112 fans in gloriously sunny conditions at Eden Park yesterday.

Less luminous was Kirwan's disposition regarding a contest he felt his team had not been ready for.

"I didn't think we performed," said Kirwan after the Bulls ran in three tries to two to stretch their unbeaten start to the season to three.

"We didn't play what we trained all week so it was very disappointing. The only thing we really salvaged from the game was a bonus point, so it was pretty poor really."

Not that Kirwan was looking to point the finger too far from where he was sitting at the end of a pretty poor weekend for Kiwi teams in the competition.

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The Hurricanes were the only winners and the Highlanders and Blues both lost at home against ruthless South African opponents.

"Consistency of performance is about consistency of preparation and I'll take responsibility for that," added Kirwan whose "better never stops" mantra hit a bit of a brick wall this week.

"We made some changes and we trained probably not as well as we could have all week. I'll cop that on the chin."

Indeed, Kirwan admitted that with the benefit of hindsight his six changes to his starting lineup probably contributed to a Blues performance lacking the rhythm of the first two weeks.

"I need to take responsibility for that. I don't regret it but it could have had an impact on how we performed," said a coach intent on sending a clear message to his players.

A 76th-minute try to Rene Ranger briefly raised the home team's hopes of a comeback victory as they closed to 21-25, but some poor executions from the restart and an 80th-minute penalty to Morne Steyn sealed the Bulls' first ever victory on Eden Park

.It was nothing new, nothing the Blues wouldn't have been expecting from the Bulls, who controlled the tempo of the game through their outstanding pack and denied their hosts the possession platforms they had feasted on over the previous fortnight.

With No 8 Pierre Spies leading a fine loose forward trio and the back three of Zane Kirchner, Akona Ndungane and Lione Mapoe enjoying perfect conditions, the visitors had much the better of proceedings.

Tries to wings Mapoe and Ndungane put the Bulls up 15-6 at the break. They were both crisply executed as the South Africans did well to win quality possession and then were good enough to make it count.

The Blues rattled off 10 straight points inside the first quarter of an hour of the second spell to lead 16-15 on the back of Baden Kerr's third penalty and a very well-taken try by fullback Charles Piutau wide on the left.

But that just steeled the Bulls.

Three minutes later flanker Arno Botha crossed wide on the left, after another fabulous break up the middle by Ndungane, and when Morne Steyn added his second penalty soon after the South Africans led 25-16.The pendulum swung back to the Blues, when Bulls halfback Jano Vermaak just lost the ball as he reached for the line, and soon after Ranger finished brilliantly down the right touchline.

But that's when the Blues needed to be clinical. Instead Steven Luatua was bundled into touch from the restart and it was left to Steyn to have the final say with his boot.

"We weren't great at the simple things and it cost us," said skipper Ali Williams afterwards. "I felt we lacked some real spark. I'm pretty pissed off at how we played.

"It's about sticking to what we train and what we're good at which is running the ball and using our ball-runners and patterns. We just didn't do it, and that's the disappointing part."

The Blues now have a bye to reassess. By the sounds of it they've got plenty to think about.

At Eden Park:

Bulls 28 (Lionel Mapoe, Akpona Ndugane, Arno Botha tries; Morne Steyn 3 pens 2 cons),

Blues 21 (Charles Piutau, Rene Ranger tries; Baden Kerr 3 pens, con). Ht: 15-6.

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