Crusaders relish 'must-win' scenario

Wed, 11 Jul 2012 10:19
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The seven-time champion Crusaders, one of six teams battling for four play-off spots, are comfortable at being in a 'must-win' scenario.

The seven-time champion Crusaders, one of six teams battling for four remaining sports in the play-offs, are comfortable at being in a 'must-win' scenario.

The table-topping Chiefs (also the New Zealand champions) and the South African conference winners, the Stormers, have already booker their play-off spots.

However, the Brumbies (currently heading the Aussie conference), Crusaders, Bulls, Sharks, Reds and Hurricanes are chasing the remaining places in the Super Rugby competition's knock-out stages in the final round of league action this weekend.

Only three competition points currently separate the Crusaders in fourth place and the Hurricanes in eighth place, so where teams end up on the table will be dependent on not just their own performances but also on other round 18 results.

The Crusaders could finish anywhere from fourth to eighth in the standings at the end of the regular season.

Crusaders coach Todd Blackadder admitted the importance of making sure his teem keep up their record of not having missed the play-offs in 10 years.

"The temptation at this stage of tournament is to start looking too far ahead," Blackadder said.

"[The] play-offs are just around the corner, and it is easy for players and coaches to start thinking about what lies ahead instead of what is directly in front of us.

"That is a grave mistake to make, so I have made it very clear to the team this week that there is just one focus for the week - and that is the Force game [this coming Saturday].  

"If we are thinking about what may or may not happen the week after, then we have become complacent about what might happen this week.

"And we know what happens when we let complacency slip in, we have demonstrated it in a couple of our losses this season.

"We are certainly capable of winning against the Force, but there is no room to let our foot off the pedal this weekend if we want to ensure a qualifier spot," Blackadder added.

Crusaders CEO Hamish Riach also spoke of the importance for the Crusaders to win in Christchurch on Saturday to ensure the team gets a home quarterfinal.

"The Crusaders team, support staff and supporters have so enjoyed having Super Rugby games back in Christchurch this year at the new AMI Stadium in Addington, and none of us would like to believe that this weekend's game will be the final home game of this season," Riach said.

"However, if we are to get the opportunity of a quarter final at our new home stadium, the team will need all of the support we can give them this weekend," Riach added.

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Pool AU
Team P W D L Pts
Waratahs 16 11 0 5 52
Brumbies 16 9 0 7 47
Rebels 16 7 0 9 36
Reds 16 4 0 12 22
Force 16 3 0 13 19
Pool NZ
Team P W D L Pts
Hurricanes 16 14 0 2 66
Highlanders 16 11 0 5 53
Chiefs 16 10 0 6 48
Crusaders 16 9 0 7 46
Blues 16 3 0 13 20
Pool SA
Team P W D L Pts
Stormers 16 10 1 5 45
Lions 16 9 1 6 42
Bulls 16 7 0 9 38
Sharks 16 7 0 9 34
Cheetahs 16 5 0 11 26