Gregor Paul

Gregor Paul is the Herald on Sunday's rugby writer

Rugby: Crusade clicking into gear

Robbie Fruean of the Crusaders breaks away frome the tackle of Richard Buckman of the Hurricanes on his way to scoring a try. Photo / Getty Images.
Robbie Fruean of the Crusaders breaks away frome the tackle of Richard Buckman of the Hurricanes on his way to scoring a try. Photo / Getty Images.

Pressure and intensity were the themes the Crusaders hammered during the week and those two assets were the difference last night.

Something has clicked in Christchurch and their slow start to the season is now a distant memory.

The little errors and sluggish individual performances have been worked out of the system and the Crusaders are building week by week.

"Yeah, I do," said captain Kieran Read when asked whether he felt the Crusaders have suddenly made it over the mental hump that was previously holding them back.

"But we have to keep ticking off each week. We have plenty of good teams ahead of us and we have spoken about making sure we keep getting good wins under our belt."

Those wins are likely to keep coming. The Crusaders scrum was outstanding and their kick-chase game caused all sorts of problems. But what buoyed coach Todd Blackadder most was the effort and intensity.

"Believe you me, it wasn't intentional," said Blackadder about the Crusaders' slow start to the season. "It actually feels like we are just starting now and that something has clicked."

That's an ominous thought for everyone else - that the Crusaders are only just starting.

Dan Carter, Andy Ellis and Tom Taylor pulled all the right tactical strings, there was a long awaited bust by Robbie Fruean and Israel Dagg returned to form.

"I think the big learning for us was the intensity they brought," said Hurricanes coach Mark Hammett. "That's the thing we'll take out of tonight - the test match intensity they brought and where we need to be."

- Herald on Sunday

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