Wynne Gray

Wynne Gray is a Herald columnist

First take: Crusaders pay penalty for wayward boot

Tyler Bleyendaal missed five kicks in the first half. Photo / Getty Images.
Tyler Bleyendaal missed five kicks in the first half. Photo / Getty Images.

So what do you do? Your new five eighths, a bloke who has impressed throughout the off-season and deserves his starting place with the Crusaders has been spraying penalty kicks like a drunken duckshooter.

Five of them went left and right for Tyler Bleyendaal and when the Crusaders headed for the halftime sheds with plenty of impetus but a big fat zero on the scoreboard, coach Todd Blackadder had a knotty problem.

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He had made a couple of hardline choices already this season like benching Zac Guildford and Tom Taylor for others he thought had shown more zip in the off-season.

But this was the real thing, the first of the derbies between the New Zealand conference favourites, a home match for the Crusaders and they had invested plenty in starting 2014 faster.

Blackadder made the call. It was not like a gamble down at the local casino, it was rugby pragmatism.

If the Crusaders were going to get back in the game they needed points and Taylor was one avenue.

First chance came with a sideline conversion. Bullseye. The Crusaders were back on the job although his next two attempts from nearly the same spot shaved the posts.

At least Taylor's kicks looked like they had a show. His punting for position and the line was also more accurate and there was a better edge to their backline work.

But 21 squandered points was a massive waste by the Crusaders and for that they paid the ultimate penalty.

- NZ Herald

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