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Joseph sure Highlanders can pick themselves up ahead of Rebels

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Sunday, March 30, 2014    Sportal.co.nz    Getty Images

He said there were as many of his players getting back in defence as their were attacking players from the Blues in action toward the end of the game and you didn't see that unless players cared about their efforts.

He was confident the side could bounce back at home when playing the Rebels in Dunedin next weekend.

Joseph was disappointed that some early opportunities were not taken by his side in the first half.

"Those opportunities against a good side like the Blues you have got to take and in the second half we came under a lot of pressure trying to chase the game and the Blues played well in that second 40.

"I'm disappointed because the guys did play some good rugby at times but we were out-played in that second 40," he said.

That view was backed by co-captain Ben Smith who said Super Rugby was about taking opportunities and you had to make the most of those that came along.

Joseph said the Blues had been clinical in the second half, well-controlled by first five-eighths Simon Hickey and the more the Highlanders tried the more things seemed to go in the Blues favour.

"We create enough opportunities to score points against opponents, quality opposition, and I think our average is about 27 or 28 points per match suggesting we can score tries, but you have to be clinical and those opportunities that you create you have actually got to take them," he said.

"You have to take your hat off the Blues, in a lot of respects they probably wanted it more."

The performance of Bryn Hall as a late replacement for Piri Weepu had not been a complete surprise.

Smith said: "We knew Bryn Hall was a good halfback. He played well didn't he?"

Joseph said he replaced All Blacks halfback Aaron Smith with Fumiaki Tanaka because they needed to try something different to spark the attack and get across the advantage line.

"I guess we were hoping that his speed and agility around the edges would spark something for us but to rely on Aaron Smith or Ben Smith to the 80th minute to claw back 20-odd points is a bit tough on those guys," he said.