Super Rugby 2019: Leon MacDonald 'frustrated' as Blues' comeback falls short against Crusaders

Blues coach Leon MacDonald has been left frustrated, after basic errors and poor kicking cost his side in their 24-22 defeat against the Crusaders.

After trailing 12-3 at halftime, the Blues fought their way back into the match against the two-time defending champions, before things unravelled in the final 10 minutes at Eden Park in Auckland.

Rookie first-five Harry Plummer missed an easy conversion to level the match with seven minutes remaining, before missing a penalty from 40m out, which would have put the Blues in front with two minutes to go.

Halfback Agustine Pulu then had a brain explosion, when he tried running down the blindside from a ruck, even though there was no space to go, and he was smashed into touch.

The Blues have now gone 20 games in a row without beating another New Zealand team. MacDonald knows the Blues had plenty of chances to win the match.

"It's frustrating, obviously, not to get the result we were looking for," he said afterwards.

"It was just a good game - it ebbed and flowed, the momentum, from both teams.

"There was a little bit of panic. Both teams had opportunities to grab the game, but a couple of little calls didn't go our way and couple of plays we didn't execute.

"There were parts of the game where we were really good, and we applied pressure to a good team. If we can do that for longer, we will be a tough team to beat." 

MacDonald added he felt sorry for Plummer and he's backing the young pivot to bounce back.

"He's a young man who's got a bright future ahead of him, and this is part and parcel of the job he's got.

Blues first-five Harry Plummer.
Blues first-five Harry Plummer. Photo credit: Getty

"We'll support him well and the boys will get around him, but being the type of guy he is, he'll be pretty determined the next week he's better.

"I remember playing with a young Dan Carter doing something similar, so it happens to everyone."

Crusaders coach Scott Robertson was relieved to walk away with the win.

"It seemed like one team dominated, then the other team dominated," he said. "There were a couple of big moments around the scrums, then a couple of massive not-straights for both teams and we both got away with it.

"We'd make a mistake, and they would capitalise big time and just dominate. The way they played off what we call their back fence, getting out of their half, was exceptional.

"You have got to give it to the Blues, there's a lot more detail in their game. They're pretty clear in what they're doing.

"I was really impressed with them."

The Blues now travel to South Africa to face the Sharks, while the Crusaders face the Hurricanes in Christchurch.


Join us at 7:30pm Saturday for live updates of the Crusaders vs Hurricanes Super Rugby clash.