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

First take: Scrums collapse, Crusaders not far behind

One is loathe to do anything that encourages more rule changes in rugby.
But on nights like these...well, what can you do?

The scrums were awful in the first half during the Crusaders' ugly, narrow victory over the Rebel's in Melbourne.

Collapses, resets, penalties. Two teams with limited attack weren't going to produce a classic, but the early scrum disaster set an unnecessarily bad tempo and the game never perked up.

Australian rugby will cringe at beefy blokes dropping head first into the Melbourne dirt.
The battle is tough enough in the Aussie Rules stronghold.

Many games aren't this bad scrum-wise, but too many still are.
The new scrum engagement rules were trumpeted as a breakthrough last year but the evidence is often in short supply.

Back to the drawing board? Or better the devil you know?

Moving forward as they say, the Crusaders did little, or maybe nothing, to suggest they have found the magic to launch a major title bid. This was a giant leap sideways.

Their only try, deep into the second half, was completed via Kieran Read operating near the sideline, as he does so well with the All Blacks. Overall, penetration was in
short supply.

The old Crusaders machine relied heavily on a great first five-eighths running the show,
thinking many moves ahead. But the No. 10 factory has closed down. Colin Slade doesn't cut the mustard.

The other options aren't great.

A malaise has spread.

In days past, the Crusaders would be expected to suddenly explode.
The time is right for someone to explode against them.

- NZ Herald

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