Blues sweat over Mealamu after Bulls defeat

DUNCAN JOHNSTONE
Last updated 13:00 09/03/2014
Keven Mealamu
Getty Images
KEY MAN: Keven Mealamu hopes to take part for the Blues against the Lions.

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The Blues are hoping to have All Blacks hooker Keven Mealamu back in their mix to tackle the Lions after the New Zealanders received a mauling form the Bulls in Pretoria this morning.

The Bulls triumphed 38-22, storming to a bonus point victory and leaving the Blues with nothing to show from a disappointing effort.

Mealamu failed to start the game, however, after he complained of a tight calf.

"He has a history of calf issues so there was no point in ricking Kevvy," coach Sir John Kirwan said.

"We should know by Monday or Tuesday if he'll be ready to go against the Lions ... we are hopeful."

The Blues reported no serious injury concerns after a hugely physical encounter at Loftus Versfeld.

Surprisingly, it was the Bulls' adventurous approach that won the match. Their plan to run the ball coincided with some sloppy Blues defence and resulted in four tries to the home side.

The Blues, in contrast, could muster just one try to replacement Peter Ahki from a chip kick by first-five Simon Hickey. In fact, if it hadn't been for Hickey's perfect goal-kicking the Blues' night would have been even more difficult.

Kirwan was hugely frustrated with his side as the game progressed. He found them guilty of again allowing their opponents to jump out of the blocks for the third time in as many games, leaving them to play a desperate game of catch-up.

"We just can't afford to keep doing that," he bemoaned.

"And we can't keep giving away penalties like we are."

But the biggest bug against the Bulls was defence where lapses handed the Africans some easy tries.

"We gave away 21 points ... that's unacceptable," Kirwan said.

Skipper Luke Braid, who had a big game in the back row alongside a physical Steven Luatua, was disappointed but hoped the match would be a valuable learning experience for the youngsters in the team.

"Several players hadn't played in South Africa before... they know what it's about now," Braid said.

Kirwan expected more of the same from the Lions next weekend as the Blues shift their focus down the highway to nearby Johannesburg.

"You know what you are getting when you play the African sides. They have brutal forwards and good defence. The Bulls showed that and the Lions will be no different."

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- Fairfax Media

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