I wasn't confident about the Crusaders winning this game. As talented as Mauger is, he isn't ready to be a pivot in a S12 side. In a couple of years maybe, but not yet. Still the lad played pretty damn well. Leon MacDonald also did a good job in the second half.
Its interesting how the Crusaders are using the No.10 in defense from set pieces. Both Mehrts in previous games & Mauger on Friday was sent back to fullback. And when you think about it that makes a lot of sense. To have your playmaker/best kicker back at fullback on defense and also have a decent defensive line with everybody able to tackle effectively by having your fullback at No.10 (a fullback should have a good defensive technique).
With your No.10 at the back he can set his wingers off with his ball playing skills, if your a Mehrts you've got the pace to create your own gaps, but more importantly you've got your best kicker to gain distance from any kicks made. There aren't many No.10's whom make a significant contribution in defense. The only two I can think of whom are successful in other areas of the game are/were Tony Brown & Henry Honiball. The theory being that hopefully the "fill-in" fullback shouldn't have to make many tackles at the back as the defensive line won't be breached. Its a bloody good philosophy!
The final score in this game should have been much more if Mauger/MacDonald had there kicking boots on. I mean 4 tries to 1 is a significant advantage, but to only win by 9 points (22 - 13) gives the impression that they struggled completely to overcome the Warratahs. And that was certainly true to a degree. There where a lot of mistakes from both sides throughout, but the overall impression you got was the Crusader forwards are damn good! Very very good! Scotty Robertson is having a storming season!!! Having him and Kupi Vanesi available for the AB's this season will make the impact of Kronfelds imminent non selection much easier to take. Cribb merely stamped his authority even more on the AB jersey.
For NSW David Lyons & Phil Waugh where hugely impressive!!! These 2 youngsters have "Wallaby" written all over them. Not a good sign for future AB wins over them is it? Noone else from NSW really stood out. Their scrum got annilhated on more than one occasion. Twice crucially near the end.
Mark Robinson at centre for the Crusaders is really putting his hand up for AB selection as well. He's big, can pass, can certainly tackle, but above all he seems to be able to break the line at will NOT with brute battering ram strength. More skill. He's exactly the sorta player the AB's need. He's an outside chance in my view.
Next week will be the huge game against ACT. The battle of the giants!! Who will be No.1 at the end of the regular season? I certainly can't pick a winner. Being No.1 gives you the security of knowing that if your lucky enough to win your semi (less than assured!) you'll have a home final.