Orangetheory Stadium proving to be a fortress for the Crusaders

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Last year during the Covid crisis they were prevented from celebrating their success as they would have liked. This week, their 24-13 win over the Chiefs in the final meant a muted response was forced on them by having to prepare to play the first game of the trans-Tasman series against the Brumbies on Saturday.


Coach Scott Robertson, who has yet to experience a playoffs loss at home in his five years with the team, said it had been a genuine final, and even while their makeshift stadium was five years beyond its use-by date, there had been plenty of finals atmosphere.


"It's [the temporary stadium] brought some great moments out, hasn't it? It's a wee fortress for us, and the people today just added to it," he said.


Robertson said he had been nervous ahead of the game. He knew the Chiefs were a good side who had some mana about them. He was pleased that all the effort that had gone into developing leadership, dealing with chaotic game situations, and pressure at crucial stages, had all been utilised on the night.


The coaching group had also been more nervous than usual, at times, during the final because the team had trouble finishing chances.


"We created so much. In the first half we played some great footy and, then, at the end of our sets, we'd turn the ball over, or the ball would go out on the full, or there was either a try or a knock-on. Then we just found a way," he said.


That wasn't helped by the Chiefs' ability at the breakdown. They were the best in the country, and, at times, it felt like they had 14 loose forwards on the ground, he said.



"We let them back in the game from time to time. Thank goodness Damian [McKenzie] was slightly off his radar [with his goal-kicking]. It just shows, there is pressure."


Robertson said first five-eighths Richie Mo'unga's play in the crucial final stages had shown what a 'freakish' player he was.


"We were on the ropes, two yellow cards and we probably played our best footy too at periods of that [yellow card] time. Our maul came good and the majority of our guys off the bench played a hand," he said.


Robertson said he was aware the Crusaders were 'disliked immensely', but he hoped they were respected for their achievements. He was proud to coach the side which had been hungry for so long and committed to turning up day after day to put the work in to be successful.


He said every one of their titles was special, but to beat Kiwi teams in what they called State of Origin games because they were so intense, made the Sky Super Rugby Aotearoa trophy more special.



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