The Crusaders' humiliating defeat to the Chiefs in Suva last weekend — after leading by 20 points — might be the best thing to happen to Scott Robertson's men before their guaranteed home quarter-final in a fortnight.

Robertson, so good at finding the right buttons to push to get consistently high performances from his players, won't have a difficult task focusing their minds before tonight's match against the Rebels in Christchurch because several will feel they have a point to prove in what is their final regular season game of the year.

Two competition points against the Melbourne side at the red and blacks' fortress will guarantee them a home semifinal and final, if they progress that far.

Robertson, attempting to be the first coach to win three Super Rugby titles in a row, is aware of complacency and knows the most important lessons can come from defeats.


His review after the 40-27 loss in Suva would have been thorough and brutally honest, and on Tuesday, he kept his players on the Rugby Park pitch for most of the afternoon.

Assistant coach Ronan O'Gara told media afterwards the long session was necessary despite the evening (and season) closing in.

"Of course it was," he said, "because, to be honest, the last few years, we would have never seen that position. When you're 20-0 up, Crusaders normally finish out the game, but we didn't.

"It's a review where it's an opportunity to get better. That's why you need to say some things that some people don't like, and some people look at it differently.

"But it's never a personal attack, it's an attack on our environment to make it a better environment.

"Once we understood that, which everyone did, I think it made it a worthwhile day."

Those who believe cracks are showing in the Crusaders facade after a difficult few weeks during which they drew with the Stormers in Cape Town, faced a media firestorm on their return due to allegations directed at some of their players in the city, and then held off the Blues before running out of steam against the Chiefs, are probably off the mark.

The 19-11 victory over the Blues was far more dominant than the score suggests and they ran into a perfect storm in Suva, with several of their most important players, including All Blacks skipper Kieran Read, appearing short of match fitness in the intense heat.


Read was a little off the pace in the end but had missed the previous fortnight due to a shoulder injury and he and his side will be far more comfortable in the much cooler and wetter conditions in Christchurch which will be guaranteed for as long as they play there.

Crusaders and All Blacks tighthead prop Owen Franks' comeback from a shoulder injury has been delayed for a week at least.

Franks could play club rugby next week during the Crusaders' bye, and if he comes through that, will probably line up in a quarter-final against the eighth-placed team.

Who that will be is anyone's guess, given the closeness and unpredictability of this year's competition. The Sharks are currently in eighth but the Chiefs, Stormers and Waratahs are within three competition points of them.

The Jaguares, Brumbies and Hurricanes are also on target for home quarter-finals.

Promising fullback Will Jordan has recommitted to the Crusaders until 2022, with hooker Andrew Makalio staying until 2021.