Patrick McKendry

Patrick McKendry is a rugby writer for the Herald.

Rugby: Blackadder not tempting fate before big final

Crusaders coach keeping level head over potential Super 15 win.

Crusaders Kieran Read and Andy Ellis celebrate the semifinal victory over the Sharks. Photo / Getty Images
Crusaders Kieran Read and Andy Ellis celebrate the semifinal victory over the Sharks. Photo / Getty Images

After watching his team demolish the Sharks and qualify for next Saturday's final, Todd Blackadder was asked how he thought he would feel if he got to lift the Super Rugby trophy as a coach after doing it three times as Crusaders captain.

"I wouldn't know, I can only imagine," was Blackadder's response.

For Blackadder, now is not the time to either tempt fate or get overly emotional. He said the latter was one of his team's major problems in the lead-up to their last final, the 2011 loss to the Reds in Brisbane. The travel from Cape Town, where they had comprehensively beaten the Stormers in their semifinal, was a big factor, but so, too, were the heightened emotional levels of making a final after a season on the road because of the earthquakes.

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It is a mistake he is determined not to make again.

"We took a lot out of that," he said of the 18-13 defeat at Suncorp Stadium.

"First of all we had been travelling around the world and we were far too emotional that week; it all came to a head. What we really learned, too, was that the simple basics let us down. I look at the two tries they scored, they were around the ruck and it was simple systems stuff which we couldn't execute under pressure.

"I think we're in better shape this year, we've got a lot more time to get prepared for the game and all of those experiences we've had will serve us well. Normally what it comes down to is pressure and whether you can execute the basics right.

"Finals rugby is about being able to execute and really good decision-making at critical times."

The Crusaders were ruthless at AMI Stadium on Saturday night in their 38-6 victory - the Waratahs less so in their 26-8 semifinal win over the Brumbies in Sydney. A similar performance from an experienced Crusaders team used to playoffs rugby against a team in their first final since 2008 - the last time the Crusaders won a title - could prove the difference. In Blackadder's six years as coach, this will be his best chance of winning a championship.

He would have preferred a home final, but a three-hour flight across the Tasman would not faze him or his team, said Blackadder, who was preparing to enjoy the moment.

"We'll enjoy tonight. We should. The guys played particularly well and Corey Flynn played his 150th, that's something to celebrate. Sometimes if you look too far ahead you can miss the moment right in front of you."

The Sharks, meanwhile, had only a 6am flight home to look forward to yesterday.

Their coach Jake White, who led the Brumbies to last year's final defeat at the hands of the Chiefs, was effusive in his praise for the Crusaders, saying they had "raised the bar" in terms of knockout rugby.

"We were here a few months ago and it was fantastic. We won, and it was nice to walk around and obviously enjoy the applause and praise, but we have to be gracious in defeat and say the Crusaders were outstanding tonight.

"They said they wanted a good start and wanted us to chase the game. In the end I had to chuck everybody on and see whether we could have a crack with what we had on the bench but we didn't even get close to scoring a try."

- APNZ

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