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, 27 May 2016
Hurricanes v Highlanders 07h35 Wellington
Waratahs v Chiefs 09h40 Sydney
Boland v Eagles 13h00 Wellington
Free State Cheetahs v Pumas 13h00 Bloemfontein
Kings v Jaguares 17h00 Ascoli Piceno
Border v Falcons 17h00 East London
Sat, 28 May 2016
Blues v Crusaders 07h35 Eden Park
Brumbies v Sunwolves 09h40 Canberra
Western Province v Griquas 10h15 Newlands
Blue Bulls v Leopards 12h15 Loftus Versfeld
Stormers v Cheetahs 13h00 DHL Newlands
Namibia v Griffons 13h00 Windhoek
Golden Lions v EP Kings 13h00 Johannesburg
Saracens v Exeter Chiefs 14h00 London
Bulls v Lions 15h05 Loftus Versfeld
Leinster v Connacht 16h30 Edinburgh
Sun, 29 May 2016
Rebels v Force 06h05 Melbourne
England v Wales 14h00 London
SUPER RUGBY
MORE LOGS
Pool AU
Team P W D L Pts
Waratahs 11 6 0 5 30
Brumbies 11 7 0 4 29
Rebels 10 5 0 5 23
Reds 13 3 1 9 16
Force 11 2 0 9 11
Pool NZ
Team P W D L Pts
Chiefs 11 9 0 2 42
Crusaders 11 9 0 2 41
Highlanders 11 8 0 3 37
Hurricanes 11 7 0 4 36
Blues 11 6 1 4 29
Pool SA1
Team P W D L Pts
Bulls 11 7 1 3 32
Stormers 11 6 1 4 32
Cheetahs 11 3 0 8 16
Sunwolves 11 1 1 9 9
Pool SA2
Team P W D L Pts
Lions 11 8 0 3 37
Sharks 12 7 1 4 35
Jaguares 11 2 0 9 13
Kings 11 1 0 10 4