Force face Crusaders backlash

Mon, 08 Apr 2013 07:12
Large george whitelock crusaders Large todd blackadder post Large sharks v crusaders2 Large george whitelock crusaders Large john plumtree   todd blacka Large sharks v crusaders

The seven-time champion Crusaders are in a dog-fight in the Super Rugby play-off race, following their third loss of the season.

The seven-time champion Crusaders are in a dog-fight in the Super Rugby play-off race, following their third loss of the season.

The Chiefs and Brumbies 'share' first place (on 29 points), but below that it is a real scrap - just five points separating position three from eight and five points between sixth place (the play-off cut-off) and 10th.

Sitting in eighth place after their 17-21 loss to the Sharks last Friday, the Crusaders are now targeting a host of bonus points in their bid to make up lost ground.

Both coach Todd Blackadder and stand-in captain George Whitelock agreed that the weekend's loss could hurt them in the run-in to the play-offs.

"From our own perspective,, we are three [wins] from six [starts] and caught up in the middle of the pack," Blackadder said in a teleconference as his team headed out to face the lowly Western Force in Perth on Saturday.

"From here it is going to be very tough," the Crusaders mentor said, adding: "It will go down to the wire and there will still be many twists and turns - there is still a long way to go [in the competition].

"It certainly shows you that you have to be up for Super Rugby week in and week out, you really have to nail your opportunities."

Whitelock, speaking in the same teleconference, admitted that they will need to start picking up extra bonus points along the way.

"We spoke about it in the shed," he said about the loss to the Sharks, adding: "We were disappointed, because we were really in that game and we felt that we sort of let ourselves down by not playing [well] in that second half."

He said they were particularly disappointed with their attack.

"We struggled to get our shape going [on attack]. We seem to [just] spread it wide, when every now and then we can take it up [the middle] and make them work harder on defence - it is just our structure on attack."

He said the race for play-offs has become "very tight" and no team is really out in front.

"These [losing] bonus points [they picked up on against the Sharks] and those four-try bonus points that we pick up along the way are going to be crucial at the end of the season," Whitelock said.

"It is very tight and that is why things like goal-kicking is so crucial, as we saw against the Sharks."

He dismissed the suggestion that the 13th-placed Western Force, with just one win from seven starts, could be easy pickings.

"Traditionally it has been tough in Perth," he said of a record that shows just one Crusaders win in four visits.

"We'll show the Force a lot of respect, otherwise we'll find ourselves one [win] from three [matches] on tour and that will be very disappointing.

"The key will be to get up and put out a performance to be proud of."

By Jan de Koning

There are currently no matches being played
FIXTURE GMT VENUE
Fri, 06 May 2016
Crusaders v Reds 07h35 Christchurch
Brumbies v Bulls 09h40 Canberra
Griffons v Eagles 15h00 Welkom
EP Kings v Blue Bulls 16h00 Port Elizabeth
Sat, 07 May 2016
Sunwolves v Force 05h15 Tokyo
Chiefs v Highlanders 07h35 Hamilton
Waratahs v Cheetahs 09h40 Sydney
Leopards v Boland 12h30 Potchefstroom
Griquas v Border 13h00 Kimberley
Sharks v Hurricanes 13h00 Durban
Pumas v Namibia 13h00 Mpumalanga
Golden Lions v Free State Cheetahs 13h00 Randburg
Wasps v London Irish 14h30 Ricoh Arena
Worcester Warriors v Saracens 14h30 Sixways
Bath v Leicester Tigers 14h30 Recreation Ground
Gloucester v Northampton Saints 14h30 Kingsholm
Harlequins v Exeter Chiefs 14h30 Twickenham
Newcastle Falcons v Sale Sharks 14h30 Kingston Park
Zebre v Dragons 15h00 Stadio Sergio Lanfranchi
Munster v Scarlets 15h00 Thomond Park
Ospreys v Ulster 15h00 Liberty Stadium
Connacht v Glasgow Warriors 15h00 Sportsground
Edinburgh v Cardiff Blues 15h00 BT Murrayfield
Leinster v Treviso 15h00 RDS
Kings v Blues 15h05 Port Elizabeth
Sharks v Western Province 15h30 Durban
SUPER RUGBY
MORE LOGS
Pool AU
Team P W D L Pts
Rebels 9 5 0 4 23
Brumbies 9 5 0 4 21
Waratahs 8 4 0 4 21
Reds 9 2 1 6 12
Force 9 1 0 8 6
Pool NZ
Team P W D L Pts
Chiefs 9 8 0 1 37
Crusaders 8 7 0 1 32
Hurricanes 9 6 0 3 31
Highlanders 9 6 0 3 28
Blues 8 4 1 3 20
Pool SA1
Team P W D L Pts
Stormers 9 6 0 3 29
Bulls 8 6 1 1 28
Cheetahs 9 2 0 7 12
Sunwolves 8 1 0 7 7
Pool SA2
Team P W D L Pts
Lions 9 6 0 3 27
Sharks 9 4 1 4 23
Jaguares 8 1 0 7 7
Kings 7 1 0 6 4