Chris Rattue

Chris Rattue is a sports columnist for the New Zealand Herald.

First Take: Abysmal Sharks make life easy for Crusaders

Crusaders 38
Sharks 6

No one needs to tell the Crusaders how to prepare for big games. They have been masters at it over the years.

But they of all people will know the brilliant semifinal victory over the Sharks is a false read - the South Africans were an embarrassing mess in Christchurch.

It should be near impossible for a team as good as the Sharks to play as badly. They were disgracefully disorganised, the skills were awful and their general kicking was abysmal.

Even penalty kicks for touch missed by metres. The Crusaders matched/beat the vaunted Sharks scrum and maul.

Todd Blackadder turned the Crusaders around this season just in time. Bravo Blackadder.

Good recruitment - namely power wing Nemani Nadolo - and selection alterations have added vital power.

Here is the question for the Sharks and South African rugby in general.

Is coach Jake White (and those of his ilk) good for their game? Once again, there is the feeling that South Africa falls short of its potential.

Only the Cheetahs - who do not challenge for titles - have ever really broken the mould. Creativity shows its head now and then, before being shoved back in the drawer.

There will be very little sympathy for the Sharks. Even at their best, they would have tried to barge and kick their way to a semifinal victory.

A clash of styles is what all sport is about. But South Africa is still stuck in a rut. Maybe they need more overseas coaches to take a leap forward.

- NZ Herald

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