Crusaders’ Timing Perfect – Again!

The Crusaders’ win over the Reds in their Super Rugby qualifier on Saturday saw a familiar pattern emerge says Ross Jones-Davies, and it is all to do with timing.

The Canterbury outfit have once again silenced critics who readily pegged them as ‘not the force they one were’ in the early rounds of Super Rugby. The Crusaders lost two early games against the Blues and Hurricanes, before beginning to grow into a squad that showed their class against an apprehensive Reds team on Saturday.

Earlier this week, Crusader and All Black lock Sam Whitelock praised the backroom staff for their management of returning All Blacks. The coaching staff has successfully guided the side to a semi final without Dan Carter for over half the games, and not to mention the illustrious captain Richie Mcaaw, who returned for fifteen minutes this weekend. Before the coaches are given too much praise however, the reality of the situation lies in the strength in depth within the Crusaders’ set up. Matt Todd has been exceptional this year in attempting to fill McCaw’s boots. It will be interesting to see how they manage McCaw’s return with this in mind. Todd’s form combined with McCaw’s lack of game time will pose inevitable selection issues.

The success behind the Crusaders side revolves around players who can do extras on top of what is required of them; the props can pass, the backs can hit breakdowns effectively and they all seem to have time on the ball. What do you do when you have players of this calibre at your disposal? Todd Blackadder, the Crusaders’ coach would reply ‘simple’, literally. Implement a simple game plan that places emphasis on getting the fundamentals in place, whilst giving players the license to play in accordance with their natural rugby ability. Throw in the likes of Kieran Reid, Dan Carter and Israel Dagg and a losing formula becomes difficult to imagine.

The Crusaders’ opponents in the semis finals this weekend, the Chiefs, will provide for a mouth watering clash. Their strong and powerful running backs directed around by the ever-alive Kerr-Barlow and perhaps heir apparent to Dan Carter, Aaron Cruden, will give the Crusader defence problems that never seemed to materialise against the Reds.

In terms of a prediction, the Crusaders seem to be hitting their straps at the right time, and despite a home game for the Chiefs, if the Crusaders control proceedings and play as they did against the Reds, Dan Carter will steal the limelight from Aaron Cruden. A few more years until that black number 10 jersey becomes yours Aaron…

Ross is a young Fly Half/Full Back currently plying his trade for the UCT Ikeys. He recently completed his B Soc Sci majoring in English and Politics at UCT and is keen to explore the world of sports journalism. The best thing about Ikeys rugby for Ross is that they play running rugby, while his favourite quote is “Impossible is Nothing”.

Follow Ross on Twitter – @ross_jd

One Comment

  1. Steady now. “Perfect” would mean that they are on their way to winning the tournament. Their inconsistencies have already forced them to play away playoff games no matter who they play.

    Hamilton, Loftus and Canberra are not easy venues to travel for a playoff match.

    The last time the Crusaders’ timing were “Perfect” was in 2008. Since then they have been hard to beat, but never made it all the way.

    They might have hit form at the right stage of the tournament, but the travel factor is counting against them for the fifth season in a row and their losses against less fancied sides like the Force are to blame.

Comments are closed.