Observe Crusaders' fatal flaws

00:00, Aug 07 2014

The Super Rugby final at Sydney only reaffirmed my aversion to the box kick.

It should be reserved for ornery horses being fractious in stables.

While all of the focus has been on Richie McCaw being penalised at that ruck and conceding the fatal penalty kick, press the rewind button a minute or two.

Of all teams, the Crusaders should know how to wind down the clock. Had they done so, that ruck would never have happened.

I was so incensed at what their halfback did, I viciously tweeted: "Nice 2 box kicks Willi Heinz. Lovely donation of possession just when Waratahs needed it!!"

Usually some miscellaneous van der Merwe replies with a Twitter uppercut. This time - not a peep.


So I conducted an unscientific verbal poll and no-one could understand Heinz's brain fade either. The first ball he hoofed into touch, then Sam Whitelock valiantly stole the ball from the resultant lineout and Heinz rewarded him by hoisting that one down the throat of Kurtley Beale.

That led to the much-dissected ruck, where McCaw took the risk he shouldn't have and paid the price. Ref Craig Joubert, so unmoved as the 2011 World Cup final wound down with the All Blacks defending desperately, wasn't going to be accused of freezing on the trigger-finger again.

Heinz's only defence can be that he was complicit with the senior players in hoisting the ball instead of holding on to the damn thing. A day later he was rewarded with the captaincy of their NPC team.

Box kicks are becoming my phobia. A few weeks back I asked Joe Schmidt whether he employs them with Ireland.

He said sometimes they are the only exit strategy when you're stuck on your own line, but you must have an efficient kick-chase. The Crusaders' kicks were hoofed from blimming midfield; they weren't back in their trenches. So many times box kicks just hand the pill over to the opposition or are charged down. Anyway, many of us haven't got over John Eales' burgling kick to beat the ABs at Wellington in 2000 and Saturday's felt like that all over again. Deep breath time.

■ There was a time when the cycling road race at the Commonwealth Games did not involve team riding.

It still shouldn't. So it was surprising when we discovered our Jesse Sergent was to be a virtual domestique for fellow Kiwi Jack Bauer in the Glasgow road race.

When only individual medals are at stake, it should be every man for himself. So years later when one of the support riders is in his rocking chair and is asked by his grandson where he keeps his medal, he can only reply, "I helped another guy win one".

Sergent is one of New Zealand's top professional riders, and while the road time trial was his main hope, he should have been able to promote himself in the murk of the road race at Glasgow.

There are no team medals on the road at the Games as there are in the grand tours of Europe.

■ Good on middle-distance runner Jake Robertson for speaking his mind at the Glasgow Games, something too few of our sportspeople do.

All right, blaming the God-fearing Nick Willis for tripping him was a bit emotive. But lapped runners on the track are just pests, as are the Kenyans who think they own the front of the field.

Few of the lapped runners departed from their snail's pace to courteously exit the inside lane and so the whole field had to take evasive action. It was a wonder Robertson didn't shoulder tackle them, or officials didn't order them to clear off out of it and enjoy the rest of their free trip.

■ While provinces like Taranaki lament they virtually didn't have anyone to follow at the Commonwealth Games, Manawatu's big contingent will return happy, but also annoyed they didn't turn those five silver medals into golds.

Manawatu Standard