I don't feel like writing a full match report (play-by-play etc), if you want one then check out what NZoom have to say, but I will make a few comments about the match and the current state of the season.
The boys are out of the running, but at least they showed some great fight.
I missed most of the first half but from the highlights I saw we really deserved to be down at the half but probably not 27-9, they were hot on attack at the end of the first half when the Cats scored a try against the run of play right on half time.
As we have come to expect though they came back so strong in the second half, and the end of the game was scintilating. It had me on the edge of my seat cheering like a mad-man when Vunibaka scored! My jubilation was short lived though, as he scored in the corner and the conversion was required to give us the lead.
The conversion was just too tough, especially for Mauger to slot after just getting on the field. If it was Merht's or Blair taking it then I would have been more confident, but it wasn't and he missed. Ah well, not to be.
The final score was 32-31 to the Cats. The Crusaders did get a bonus point for finishing within 7 but that's not much good in our current position on the table.
And here I thought this weekend might be the first time all the NZ teams got a win. Bugger!
I'll be lending the Highlanders, Canes and Chiefs my full support in their quest for the semi's but I hope our lads can continue to play well in their remaining three matches, if they want higher honours this year a few of them have a lot of impressing to do!
At this stage Mehrts, Marshall, Sommervile and Maxwell are probably the only certainties to make the AB squad and probably the starting lineup, with Thorne and Robertson pushing pretty hard to at least make the squad.
Unfortunately Toddy isn't even in the frame, as we have have discussed at length already on Rugbyheads he hasn't been nearly as inspirational this season as he was last year. It appears that the Crusaders brains trust have even come to that conclusion as he got subbed in todays' game for Jack (after Mad Max got binned for being a meathead, as usual).
Now we know that Toddy's not a great lineout option but surely the captain should stay on the field if he's not hurt. My understanding was they were probably planning to sub Maxwell off for Jack (as they have done in previous matches) but Maxwell getting sent off forced them to get a legit lineout option on the park ASAP. Interestingly Reuben Thorne became the No. 1 option in the time Maxwell was off and before Jack came on for Toddy.
Also out of the running I suspect is Feek, Gibson and mid-fielder Robinson. Gibson has been solid, but nothing great and Pita Alatini and Paul Steinmetz have been in great form while the other two haven't really had enough game time to be seriously considered.
One guy who has silenced a few critics this season is Leon Macdonald who was probably the form NZ fullback in the competition for the first few rounds, but with Wilson back in the picture for utility back selection and Howlett, Lomu and Roger Randell showing good form I really can't see Leon getting another shot in the black jersey, not this season at least.
Nelson put on a great day for an exciting game of rugby, shame the home team didn't quite do the business.