The Crusaders do it again at a sultry Ballymore, downing the Queens from Queensland 27 - 19!
In a scrappy game littered with mistakes from both sides, and a disturbing ruck & maul count against the Crusaders, the mighty men in red 'n' black proved what guts and determination and a winning culture can do to winning football games. This Crusader outfit should be an inspiration not only to Cantabrians but New Zealanders as a whole. They display a never-say-die attitude that reflects what New Zealanders should be...not that glossy corporate crap that has invaded the All Blacks in the last few years. This is grass roots rugby. Guys getting out there willing to die for the province & its proud heritage. Uphold the famous history of those red 'n' black colours. Uphold the Cantabrian attitudes & virtues we hold so dear.
I admit for a good part of this game I didn't think we would win this one. After all, you can't win them all. The Red's in the first half had a wealth of possession and it was only inspirational defense that was holding them out. And a loss to be honest wouldn't have bothered me as a supporter much at all. For two reasons...the key to winning the Super 12 is to win all your home games THEN try & get as many points as possible from the away ones. This was our second away game and to have a 50 - 50 record ain't bad so early in the season. The other reason is the simple fact that the Crusaders have now been their and done that. Most of us supporters these days just get enormous pleasure & pride from simply watching them play. Another S12 title would be nice....but if they don't does it really matter?
Todd Blackadder was interviewed on Sky TV earlier in the week by that git Murray Deaker. I don't like Deaker at all. He's an Auckland bigot...he loves calling Cantabrians one-eyed arseholes without fully realising that the dribble that spills forth from his mouth is just as bigoted for his Auckland teams. A common holier-than-thou attitude from our unwanted cousins up North. However on this occasion, probably more through public pressure than anything else, Deaker was seen to be praising the leadership qualities of the great Todd Blackadder and the winning culture the Crusaders have. Keep in mind the losing culture both Auckland rugby codes have at the moment. Toddy came out of that interview with flying colours. If ever a man had "ALL BLACK CAPTAIN" tattooed on his forehead this man would be it. A classic response to a viewer question came when someone rang up and asked whether he felt like he was betraying his rugby club by being away from them so much....Toddy answered in the best way possible...last season in between a New Zealand 'A' game and what was (I think) a Canterbury NPC game he had 3 weeks off. Instead of taking that time off to rest a tired body, he turned out for his club in North Canterbury. The famous Glenmark club nestled in the Omihi Valley. Grizz Wylie & Robbie Deans country. How grass roots is that??? Wonder how many games the likes of Robin Brooke have played for their club lately? Actually with Brooke's form you'd hope a whole lot more!!! : - )
This game was one we should have lost. We didn't thanks to a intercept try by the much maligned Justin Marshall & a committed last 20 minutes by the Crusaders outfit. Who else was jumping out of their seats with the Leon MacDonald try????? What a brilliant set move, magnificent passing & combination, and above all great pace. Everybody at Cone stadium was hooting & hollering over that one.
For the Crusaders Ron Cribb again was outstanding. Breaking tackles, strong on defense...this boy is a future All Black. Buck Shelford will be relishing having him back in North Harbour colours. Leon MacDonald looked dangerous the whole game (has he been doing loads of sprint training in the off season or something? He's got very quick!). 'Razor' Robertson was strong on the openside & big Normie Maxwell put in some HUGE defense.
The scrums during the whole game where a bloody shambles & completely boring! However I love that new rule by where if the scrum is screwed past the ninety the team with the ball has to use it. It speeds up the game brilliantly & means potentially we will have much less setting & resetting of scrums. Makes it kinda like the ball locked in a maul situation where the attacking team has to "use-it or lose-it".
Our backs as a whole did OK. Mehrts still has that bloody annoying tendency to miss touch trying to get distance in his kicks. Wish he would tone it down! Marshall's passing is still awful. Fortunately when he's on top of his game his others skills make up for it at Super 12 level. He's a good player...just not quite good enough to the be the incumbent AB No.9 in my mind. Bubs Mayerholfer also had a strong game in both defense and attack.
For the Reds, I think they'd be pretty happy with their performance but gutted with the final result. With the amount of possession they had I think they would have expected to win so they will be disappointed at that. After 3 rounds for them they are still sitting at the bottom of the table with a big fat ZERO, so that'll be giving them the shits for sure. They do however have big injury problems with Eales, Horan, Herbert etc out with injuries. However thats the nature of the Super 12. You need a strong squad otherwise you won't get through the season.
A good, gritty performance by the Crusaders. Roll on next week!