Crusaders' happy with 'trademark finish' against Chiefs

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Beaten at the last gasp a fortnight earlier, the Crusaders built on the pain they felt listing to the Chiefs' singing their victory song in the adjoining dressing room in Christchurch.


Experiencing that had been tough, coach Scott Robertson said after Saturday's winning performance.


"We wanted to make sure we came back here and have a finish we were proud of. It's pleasing to see the lessons were out there," he said.


Forced to play consecutive games with the Chiefs due to Covid-postponements of their scheduled game last weekend, Robertson said it represented an opportunity to bounce back and show what it meant to play for the Crusaders.


An added factor was providing a win for second five-eighths David Havili's 100th game for the side.


Robertson said the managed return of players who had suffered Covid had been part of their approach, and he was pleased with the way players lasted through the game.



That was especially the case for hooker Codie Taylor who had to play the full 80 minutes after an injury to Brodie McAlister during the warm-up.


Prop Finlay Brewis had come in and been effective in his debut. The Crusaders had fielded 12 debut players so far in 2022, and Robertson said it was good to see players taking opportunities when given them.


Improving their discipline was also a factor after the concession of penalties in their first game had allowed the Chiefs to come back into the contest. Assistant coach Tamati Ellison worked effectively to turn that around, Robertson said.


He added that after some of the great matches the Crusaders and Chiefs had played over the years, it would have been disappointing if a crowd had not been able to enjoy Saturday's game. Having a crowd again had been special.


Chiefs' director of rugby Warren Gatland, who stood in for the Covid-isolating coach Clayton McMillan said the outcome could be described as a little backward step.


The Chiefs showed what they were capable of when able to hold the ball for long phases, but they couldn't do that for long enough.


"They definitely put a lot of pressure on us at the breakdown, so made it tough for us. We kind of hard our pants pulled down in that area," Gatland said.


An extra concern came with the loss of lock Brodie Retallick who left the field at the 30-minute mark with a wrist injury, but Gatland was uncertain of the extent of the injury.



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