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Script was perfect for Crusaders

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Sportal.co.nz     21 Jul 2013     Getty Images

He praised his players for preparing well and paying the Reds the respect they deserved as a top side.

Everyone had played their part in the performance, and players coming off the bench had done their bit as well, he said.

"I think it was really set up by the attitude at the start of the week," Blackadder said.

"We've had a fits and starts sort of season, we've had our highs and lows and times when we haven't fired but the commitment is there and everyone has got their head in the right place. I think this is a really determined group and they really want to do well.

"What we saw out there tonight is that everyone is aligned and on the same page about what they wanted to achieve tonight and that was great," he said.

The return of Richie McCaw for the final quarter of the game would not see Blackadder drawn into the question of whether he might be considered to start in next weekend's semi-final.

Instead, Blackadder highlighted the man who has been playing in the openside all season, Matt Todd, could not be faulted for his performance. McCaw had not looked out of place but Blackadder felt it was more likely he would resist the urge to make a change for change's sake.

"I thought our forward pack really got on the front foot and really laid a really good platform, I thought we controlled the collisions and I thought our strikes managed to cut right through from the back attack. I thought that was excellent," he said.

It had been important for the Crusaders for everyone to step up at the right time, and they had done that against the Reds and it was something they needed to continue. But he acknowledged there was a determination in the side to do well this year, even if remaining games are played on the road.

Star player Dan Carter said the backs had enjoyed having the comfort provided by the forwards in their efforts, and the team overall was reflecting the greater momentum seen since the June Test window.

"In knockout footie anything can happen but we fight to live another week which is exciting," he said.

While the team had been working on their attacking play all season, they had been getting better in recent weeks and the win over the Reds was an example of that.

"We were controlling the collisions and were able to get off-loads away which we haven't seen a lot of this year so that was a pleasing aspect of our attack," he said.

Carter was hopeful they might get to play the Chiefs next week rather than having to venture to Pretoria but he said they would handle whatever was thrown at them.

"If we are going to go all the way we will have to do it at someone else's venue but we are excited about the challenge," he said.

Carter also paid credit to double try scorer Ryan Crotty and said he was an integral part of the side, was the vice-captain and had been working hard on his game all year and it was good to see him getting some reward.