Depleted Crusaders 'make a point'
Sun, 31 Mar 2013 09:23
There was probably more focus on the guys that weren't here
The Crusaders proved a point at Newlands on Saturday by downing the Stormers without the help of a host of their big-name players.
The seven-time champions were without the services of senior All Blacks Richie McCaw, Kieran Read, Dan Carter and Israel Dagg for various reasons, but pulled together well to secure a tense 19-14 win, which was the Stormers' first defeat at home this season.
Captain George Whitelock admitted that there was plenty of motivation for his side to prove some doubters wrong and show that they are about more than just their star players.
"There was probably more focus on the guys that weren't here all week and the group that went out there were pretty determined to make a point.
"So there was a bit of emotion there and at the same time it got out tour off to a good start, but we are early days in this competition so we won't get too carried away," he said.
The Crusaders have now won their last four consecutive matches against the Cape outfit, and Whitelock was particularly satisfied that his young team was able to get over the line in such a high-pressure environment.
"It is a great stadium and great atmosphere so it is pretty special to play here and the guys really enjoy coming. I guess it brings the best out of them.
"It is great confidence from the first game on tour, especially with a lot of young guys getting some game-time out there in such a high pressure venue," he said.
Crusaders coach Todd Blackadder acknowledged that his team's domination of the line-outs had played a major role in the result and pointed to the hard work that they put into preparing for the match as key to their success.
"We knew the Stormers' set-piece was critical to their game, and the guys have just done a lot of hard work this week and put them under pressure, it doesn't happen by accident.
"The team had been through a bit this week, obviously there was a bit of attention about the players that we didn't have but I think the senior players did a great job and really prepared well for this week so we got a really good outcome," he said.
However, there was some bad news for the visitors with injuries to Owen Franks and Jonny McNicholl giving them even fewer options for the match against the Sharks on Friday.
"We have got a couple of injuries at the moment. Owen Franks looks like he may have done a rib cartilage, I am not sure how bad, and Jonny McNicholl's ankle looks quite serious," said Blackadder.
By Michael de Vries
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