Sportal.co.nz 15.Jul.2012Getty Images
That had to be good news for Crusaders coach Todd Blackadder and captain Richie McCaw because they must have been wondering after a disappointing second half in their 38-24 win over the Force at AMI Stadium.
The win ensures the Crusaders a home game next week in the first of the play-offs matches but after taking his key men off at half-time Blackadder saw the momentum fall away as the Force scored three tries to none in the second half.
McCaw told SKY Sport he thought the Crusaders got 'a bit disjointed' in the second half.
"There was a lot of little mistakes and our set pieces didn't function too well. But we got the win which was what we wanted.
"We played with pretty good pace and intensity in the first half but we didn't carry that on.
"The Force showed they were a reasonable team and they came back and put us under pressure.
"We didn't win as much lineout ball as wanted but now we are in the play-offs it is back to square one," he said.
McCaw, who has played plenty of times against the retiring Sharpe, paid tribute by describing him as a 'champion, a big man, and it is sad to see him go'.
Sharpe said no side could afford to give away four first half tries to the Crusaders although he admitted to not being sure how they got two of them, a reference to two controversial Television Match Official rulings.
"They're the form team we've played this year.
"I'm proud of our crew. We brought a lot of young guys over here for this game but they hung in there and did really, really well.
"The Crusaders have been the hardest opposition I have faced across my whole career.
"The Emirates Force means a helluva lot to me and now that it is done and dusted and unfortunately we didn't get away with a win," he said.