Israel Dagg: Crusaders panicked at the death

DENIED: Israel Dagg makes a try-saving tackle on Highlanders wing Patrick Osborne in the final play of the match.
DENIED: Israel Dagg makes a try-saving tackle on Highlanders wing Patrick Osborne in the final play of the match.

Israel Dagg has revealed the Crusaders collectively panicked in the final minutes of their heart stopping 32-30 win over the Highlanders on Saturday

However, not surprisingly, the All Blacks fullback wouldn't change a thing about a match he says has stoked his love of rugby ahead of the the upcoming test series with England.

"That was like a test match out there with both teams going at it," Dagg said today after 48 hours of friendly banter with the Highlanders players in the All Blacks training camp.

"That last five minutes was crazy, the heart was pumping. They were putting us under pressure, the forwards were doing their job and then they went wide and I thought, 'here we go!'."

Dagg etched himself into Super Rugby folklore with a try-saving tackle on Highlanders wing Patrick Osborne in the final play of the match, but said it was a tackle he should never have had to make.

"To be honest, we panicked," he said.

"We won some lineouts and kicked the ball straight back to them and they were on counter attack and had options. We pretty much nearly gave it to them in the end. We have to be a lot smarter than that and hold on to the ball.

"When they kicked it to me I probably should have run, but I put up a 28 [high kick]. We have to be smarter than that, we could have ground out the game a lot easier but we took it down to the wire.

"But everyone loved it so its all good."

And Dagg said he wasn't only talking about the fans at Forsyth Barr and those watching on television.

"You are out there playing in front of such a hostile, big crowd in one of the best stadiums in New Zealand, both teams' seasons were on the line and that's why you play the game," he said.

"It's a big thrill. Everyone's still talking about the game. It's such a long competition and some weeks you can [lose a bit of the enjoyment] . . . but that game last week was just a special week and a great game."

Dagg has had a chance to go back and look closely at the replays which saw the Television Match Official rule that Osborne had placed the ball simultaneously on the goal like and sideline and was therefore out.

"At the time I was telling the ref and myself that he was out," he said.

"I didn't really know to be honest and it looked pretty close on the big screen, but I think the right call was made in the end, yeah.

"It's quite awesome. It's one of those moments that could have gone either way and it was just a great game. It came down to the last second when it went to the TMO and it was lucky it went our way.

"People down in Highlanders country think it was a try, people in Canterbury think it wasn't a try, it's just one of those things. I've had a look at it and the big thing is it was simultaneous. I don't know if that's out or in, but it's out because we won."

Dagg didn't sense any bitterness from the Highlanders players in the All Blacks camp and doubted anyone would dwell for long on the result for long

"We have to move on, both teams are still in the comp. They're on 36 points and we're on 37, its pretty tight and everyone's battling away."

On a personal note it had been satisfying to execute a tackle every fullback trained to make.

"It gets pretty lonely back there especially when you have big boys running at you who are pretty good on their feet," Dagg said.

"So you do work quite hard . . . I just had to bust my arse to get over there and try and make a play and luckily it came off.

"I just tried to use the touch line as my friend, get under him, put the body on the line and drive him over."