Page: Are coaches keeping up with the play?

JACOB PAGE
Last updated 05:00 09/08/2014
Dan Carter
Photosport
HURTING: Dan Carter watches the second half of the Super Rugby final from the sidelines after limping off hurt.

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OPINION: Having watched the 2014 Super Rugby final multiple times, it's worth pondering if coaches always make the right calls in the second half.

The Waratahs deserved to win that final; they played better throughout the 80 minutes, though questions must be asked as to what Crusaders stalwart Richie McCaw did wrong to concede the match-winning penalty.

All that aside, it seemed like Crusaders coach Todd Blackadder made some crucial errors that contributed to serious momentum shifts.

Those errors make you wonder if coaches are prepared to change the pre-match script when it comes to certain players, based on what they are seeing out on the field.

The first was the injury to Daniel Carter.

It made no sense that a man built like Carter, and with the skills he possesses in other areas was being used to crash the ball up like a 110kg midfield back from a lineout.

He is not going to bust tackles with raw power like Ma'a Nonu or Malakai Fekitoa and his kicking, passing and general eye for the game was far more valuable to his team than one bullocking hit-up that should have been left to centre, Ryan Crotty, a man who had done it many times in the past.

Carter doesn't shy away from the physical side of things like former pivot Andrew Mehrtens, but it was a needless play that cost Blackadder and now the All Blacks dearly.

The other was the substitution of prop Wyatt Crockett midway through the second half.

Just before he came off, the All Black had won two penalties for his team and destroyed two Waratahs scrums.

Clearly it was a move decided on pre-game, but surely the coaching staff could have seen he was going well and deserved to stay out there while he was still making a major impact.

These telegraphed substitutions make no sense.

These days players are being taken off five minutes into the second half,and it seems a waste.

Once Crockett went off, the Waratahs scrum steadied, his replacement Joe Moody suffered a head knock and was replaced after five minutes and the game had changed.

The situation was proof that things can change, and coaches perhaps need to move with the momentum to get the result they desire.

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- The Timaru Herald

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