Fingertips victory a relief

Getty Images     25 Feb 2012     Getty Images

A last-second dropped goal attempt by replacement Blues first five-eighths Piri Weepu deflected off wing Israel Dagg's fingers enough to force the ball wide of the goalposts.

"It was certainly an arm wrestle. There was a lot of pressure out there and both teams at times made a few uncharacteristic errors but you'd expect that under pressure. Once again it came down to the wire against a good side," he said.

The game, which had tension high in both coaches' boxes, saw what Blackadder described as 'two really good sides' cancelling each other out as they were trying to win the critical moments.

"A dropped ball can turn into a breakout, a counter attack. Not being able to execute set piece pressure. If you don't win your lineout or your scrum opportunity lost. It was a little bit like that and then it is hard to get that momentum.

"I felt watching the game the momentum went back and forth, back and forth and two heavyweights slugging it out to win the critical moments," he said.

But the contest had everything you would expect to see from two good sides playing their first game of the season.

Dagg's motivation to secure the game-saving chargedown was motivated by the kick he had charged down which opened the scoring for the Blues early in the game when flanker Chris Lowrey scored.

Blackadder felt the Crusaders had been penalised more for their violation of the tackle assist part of the interpretations more than the sealing off aspect that referees were looking at.

"The emphasis for us is to make sure we create a little more daylight," he said.

The breakdown had been very aggressive and in wanting to bash opponents, players were going in and losing their feet and by having your head down over the ball you could be caught in an uncompromising position but the Crusaders would work hard on.

First five-eighths Tyler Bleyendaal, who came through his first big game of leading the tactical choices for his side said it had been a game of inches against a 'bloody good Blues side'. The action had been intense throughout, he said.

Bleyendaal kicked four penalty goals to keep his side ahead but he wondered if two second half misses were a result of a quad muscle injury he had suffered which had reduced the power in his kicks.

"I didn't hit them very either so it's just an easy fix I should say," he said.

The game had been important to both sides, Blackadder said, but the Crusaders wanted to start well and show they had learned the lessons from last year.

"In the back of our minds too, with the earthquake and the anniversary we really wanted to do it for our people so I am really pleased our guys gutsed it out.

"We are really pleased. To win ugly, I know it was messy at times but we're really pleased that we got a good result and we'll take a lot from the game and be far better next week," he said.

Blackadder said the Crusaders had put a lot of pressure on in the scrum but the Blues had a better scrum this year and would be a force in the competition.