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Blues defeat could send Lam to the slaughter


Neil Harvey, Alastair Bull

If Melbourne Rebels coach Damien Hill is feeling pressure, he can spare a thought for Blues rival Pat Lam when their teams meet in tonight's Super Rugby match.

The two sides share last place in the competition with South Africa's Lions with dismal 1-5 records, but there the comparison ends.

Hill is just starting his tenure with a team that is only expected to improve a bit on last year's debut season when they finished last with three wins.

Lam is coming off contract with the high-profile Auckland-based Blues and was expected to make them title contenders once more after adding the likes of All Blacks stars Ma'a Nonu and Piri Weepu to a strong roster.

Lam says he understands the pressure he and his Blues team are under from critics after losses to the Crusaders, Chiefs, Stormers and Hurricanes and tries to treat it as a positive.

''For us, ultimately, we're going to be judged on results, and that's why we're getting a hammering, and rightly so,'' Lam said.

''We haven't been getting the results.

''We've got to make sure we focus day-to-day, week-to-week.

''It's good people are passionate about the game.

''If they weren't, then maybe I wouldn't really look deep down at myself at what I need to do.''

Central to the Blues' problems in recent years is the inability to settle a class playmaker.

Lam used All Blacks World Cup halfback Weepu in the flyhalf role in their desperately-close loss to the Hurricanes last start but has dumped him to the bench for the Rebels clash at Melbourne's AAMI Park.

He's recalled 20-year-old flyhalf Gareth Anscombe, who scored all the Blues' points in their sole victory this season against the Bulls in Pretoria. He has also regained X-factor winger Rene Ranger from a suspension incurred in that game.

Anscombe will try to outwit English star Danny Cipriani, who returns from a hamstring strain to pilot the Rebels as they attempt to cure their tendency to fade in the second half following promising starts.

Cipriani's direction will be welcome, with Wallaby James O'Connor moving out to add midfield thrust after playing at pivot in the Rebels' 43-12 loss to the Highlanders last week.

In that match, the Rebels had the better of the first half with stirring defence and went to the break at 12-12 before conceding a string of tries.

Hill yesterday insisted his team was on the right track.

''The confidence in the group is there,'' said Hill.

''They know it's just a matter of getting our decision-making and execution better which is what we work on at training.'' AAP


Super Rugby round six: Melbourne Rebels v Auckland Blues at AAMI Park, 7.40pm.

TV time: Live on Fox Sports 3.

Rugby Internationals 2014

Round 1
Sat, 07 JunTimes shown AEST
SAM 18 vs TGA 18 Report Stats
FJI 25 vs ITA 14 Report Stats
NZL 20 vs ENG 15 Report Stats
AUS 50 vs FRA 23 Report Stats
Sun, 08 JunTimes shown AEST
RSA 47 vs WXV 13 Report Stats
ARG 17 vs IRE 29 Report Stats
USA 6 vs SCO 24 Report Stats
CAN 25 vs JPN 34 Report Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 2
Sat, 14 JunTimes shown AEST
SAM 15 vs ITA Report Stats
FJI 45 vs TGA 17 Report Stats
NZL 28 vs ENG 27 Report Stats
AUS 6 vs FRA Report Stats
Sun, 15 JunTimes shown AEST
RSA 38 vs WAL 16 Report Stats
CAN 17 vs SCO 19 Report Stats
ARG 17 vs IRE 23 Report Stats
USA 29 vs JPN 37 Report Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 3
Sat, 21 JunTimes shown AEST
ARG 19 vs SCO 21 Report Stats
FJI 13 vs SAM 18 Report Stats
JPN 26 vs ITA 23 Report Stats
AUS 39 vs FRA 13 Stats
NZL 36 vs ENG 13 Report Stats
Sun, 22 JunTimes shown AEST
RSA 31 vs WAL 30 Report Stats
USA 38 vs CAN 35 Report Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 4
Sun, 29 JunTimes shown AEST
RSA 55 vs SCO 6 Report Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 5
Sun, 02 NovTimes shown AEDT
BAR 36 vs AUS 40 Report Stats
USA 6 vs NZL 74 Report Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 6
Sun, 09 NovTimes shown AEDT
ITA 24 vs SAM 13 Report Stats
ENG 21 vs NZL 24 Report Stats
WAL 28 vs AUS 33 Report Stats
FRA 40 vs FJI 14 Report Stats
IRE 29 vs RSA 15 Report Stats
SCO 41 vs ARG 31 Report Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 7
Sun, 16 NovTimes shown AEDT
ITA 18 vs ARG 20 Report Stats
ENG 28 vs RSA 31 Report Stats
WAL 17 vs FJI 13 Report Stats
SCO 16 vs NZL 24 Report Stats
FRA 29 vs AUS 26 Report Stats
Mon, 17 NovTimes shown AEDT
IRE 49 vs GEO 7 Report Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 8
Sun, 23 NovTimes shown AEDT
ITA 6 vs RSA 22 Report Stats
SCO 37 vs TGA 12 Report Stats
IRE 26 vs AUS 23 Report Stats
WAL 16 vs NZL 34 Report Stats
ENG 28 vs SAM 9 Report Stats
FRA 13 vs ARG 18 Report Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 9
Sun, 30 NovTimes shown AEDT
ENG 26 vs AUS 17 Report Stats
WAL 12 vs RSA 6 Report Stats
View All Fixtures
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