Super Rugby round 11
Kirwan proud of gallant baby Blues
April 27, 2013
Blues No. 8 Peter Saili is upended as the Blues fell just short against Queensland Reds © Getty Images
A gracious John Kirwan said the Reds deserved to beat his Blues team at Suncorp Stadium on Friday night, despite large periods of dominance from the visitors.
The Blues coach praised the effort of his players in the 12-11 loss, in a match where the New Zealanders dominated possession and kept the hosts try-less, but fell to a Quade Cooper penalty in the closing stages.
The Reds racked up 233 tackles to the Blues' 137 but seemed to have more left in the tank in the final 15 minutes of a low-scoring second half.
In an upbeat post-match press conference, Kirwan and Blues captain Ali Williams both said they were proud of the young Blues side, even though they could not hold on for the win.
"We talked about a Test Match all week, this is one of the hardest places to come and win," Kirwan said. "I was just incredibly proud of how the guys played and I think we were three minutes away from winning, and just made some critical errors in the last couple of minutes when we needed to probably set up a droppie (drop goal), which we were trying to do. But if you come off the field and have given it everything, you can't ask too much more, really."
Kirwan labelled the Reds, the Brumbies and the Chiefs as the competition's benchmark sides, saying his team need to improve if they are to topple those teams.
"I think they deserved to win," he said. "They defended incredibly well, they were probably a little bit more disciplined than we were, and that gets you across in a Test Match like tonight."
Williams described a fast-paced game in which both teams preferred to play with ball in hand.
"It was really quick," he said. "There was a lot of desire to play the ball, get it out wide and play, not the kicking. I actually spoke to Quade after the game and he just said he loved playing it because of that very fact, we were always challenging each other with the ball in hand rather than a ball up in the air, so very fast. But I'm proud of our team to be honest. The beauty of rugby is that we get another chance next week, we go home and play the Stormers and get back on the horse, so to speak."