Ryan Crotty demands Crusaders go up gear

03:06, Jun 30 2014
Richie McCaw
The expression of Richie McCaw's face says it all after the Crusaders missed seven penalties in an 18-10 loss to the Chiefs.
Israel Dagg
Crusaders fullback Israel Dagg runs at Liam Messam during the season opener.
Nafi Tuitavake
Crusaders wing Nafi Tuitavake runs away from Chiefs lock Brodie Retallick.
Crusaders fans
Almost 17,000 Crusaders fans packed into Christchurch Stadium for the season opener.
Tim Perry
Crusaders prop Tim Perry is taken down by Charlie Faumuina.
Richie McCaw
Richie McCaw eyes up a tackle on George Moala before leaving the field injured.
Colin Slade
Colin Slade celebrates his first half try against the Blues.
Colin Slade and Reynold Lee-Lo
Crusaders Colin Slade (right) and Reynold Lee-Lo fail to secure the ball under pressure from George Moala.
Crusaders 2014 season
Stormers captain Jean de Villiers and the Crusaders' Kieran Read await a referee's decision during their clash in Christchurch.
Crusaders 2014 season
Johnny McNicholl of the Crusaders celebrates the final whistle following his side's comeback win over the Stormers.
Crusaders 2014 season
The Crusaders cheerleaders get the crowd going before kick-off against the Stormers.
Crusaders 2014 season
Sam Whitelock reaches highest to claim lineout ball for the Crusaders against the Chiefs.
Kieran Read
Captain Kieran Read chats to his forward pack during a break against the Rebels.
Israel Dagg
Israel Dagg attempts to get himself out of the grasp of a Melbourne Rebel.
Israel Dagg
Israel Dagg unleashes a punt downfield.
Colin Slade
Crusaders first-five Colin Slade fires a pass to his outside backs.
Ben Funnell
Crusaders Kieran Read (left) and Nafi Tuitavake rush to congratulate hooker Ben Funnell after scoring.
2014 Crusaders season
Wyatt Crockett of the Crusaders tries to offload under pressure from Jeremy Thrush of the Hurricanes.
2014 Crusaders season
Ryan Crotty makes a break for the Crusaders against the Hurricanes in Christchurch.
2014 Crusaders season
The Crusaders players look dejected after losing to the Hurricanes at the death.
2014 Crusaders season
Nemani Nadolo makes a charge down the wing for the Crusaders against the Hurricanes.
2014 Crusaders season
The Crusaders' Kieron Fonotia and Owen Franks get to grips with Schalk van der Merwe of the Lions.
2014 Crusaders season
Nepo Laulala of Crusaders tackling Faf de Klerk of Lions during the teams' clash at Ellis Park.
Crusaders 2014 season
George Whitelock and Matt Todd of Crusaders smash Lions No 8 Warren Whitley.
Crusaders
Crusaders lock Sam Whitelock takes a charge at the Lions defence.
Crusaders 2014 season
Crusaders No 10 Colin Slade goes on a run against the Cheetahs in Bloemfontein.
Crusaders 2014 season
Crusaders halfback Willi Heinz floats a pass out in his teams clash with the Cheetahs.
Crusaders 2014 season
Crusaders captain Kieran Read breaks away from the back of a maul against the Cheetahs.
Crusaders 2014 season
Ryan Crotty swats the Cheetahs defence out of his way in Bloemfontein.
Crusaders 2014 season
Quade Cooper of the Reds is tackled by Wyatt Crockett of the Crusaders.
Crusaders 2014 season
Richie McCaw of the Crusaders takes the lineout during the round 13 Super Rugby match between the Reds and the Crusaders.
Crusaders 2014 season
Luke Whitelock of the Crusaders breaks away from the defence to score a try during the round 13 Super Rugby match between the Reds and the Crusaders.
Crusaders 2014 season
Johnny McNicholl of the Crusaders celebrates with team mate Israel Dagg after scoring a try during the round 13 Super Rugby match between the Reds and the Crusaders.
Crusaders 2014 season
Johnny McNicholl of the Crusaders scores a try during the round 13 Super Rugby match between the Reds and the Crusaders.
Crusaders 2014 season
Nemani Nandolo of the Crusaders storms down the sideline during the Chiefs and Crusaders Super Rugby match.
Crusaders 2014 season
Brodie Retallick of the Chiefs and Samuel Whitelock of the Crusaders wrestle off the ball during the Chiefs and Crusaders Super Rugby match.
Crusaders 2014 season
Willi Heinz of the Crusaders in action during the Chiefs and Crusaders Super Rugby match.
Crusaders 2014 season
Samuel Whitelock of the Crusaders has a word with a team-mate during the Chiefs and Crusaders Super Rugby match.
Crusaders 2014 season
Pat McCabe of the Brumbies is tackled by Israel Dagg of the Crusaders.
Crusaders 2014 season
Colin Slade of the Crusaders kicks a conversion during the round 12 Super Rugby match between the Crusaders and the Brumbies.
Crusaders 2014 season
Sam Whitelock of the Crusaders is tackled during the round 12 Super Rugby match between the Crusaders and the Brumbies.
Crusaders 2014 season
Nemani Nadolo of the Crusaders dives over to score a try during the round 12 Super Rugby match between the Crusaders and the Brumbies.
Julian Savea
Julian Savea celebrates the Hurricanes' win over the Crusaders during their Round 17 Super Rugby match at Westpac Stadium in Wellington.
Dan Carter
Dan Carter of the Crusaders looks to make a break against the Hurricanes during his first Super Rugby appearance of the season.
Ryan Crotty
Ryan Crotty, captain of the Crusaders, is tackled by Ardie Savea of the Hurricanes during their Super Rugby clash at Westpac Stadium in Wellington.
Andy Ellis
Andy Ellis of the Crusaders and Dane Coles of the Hurricanes scuffle during their round 17 Super Rugby match.
05-CHP-CruVBlu1
Nemani Nadolo crashes over the line for the Crusaders under pressure from a stern Blues defence.
05-CHP-CruVBlu9
Crusaders centre Ryan Crotty has a cut at the Blues' line with Andy Ellis in support.
05-CHP-CruVBlu12
Crusaders wing Nemani Nadolo on the charge against the Blues at AMI Stadium in Christchurch.
Ma'a Nonu
Blues star Ma'a Nonu is tackled by Dan Carter of the Crusaders during their round 18 Super Rugby match in Christchurch.
Andy Ellis
Andy Ellis, centre, of the Crusaders is tackled by Blues players Tony Woodcock (left) and Luke Braid (right) during his side's win in Christchurch.
Dominic Bird
Crusaders lock Dominic Bird powers through a number of would-be Blues defenders at AMI Stadium in Christchurch.
Nemani Nadolo
Nemani Nadolo of the Crusaders dives over to score a try against the Blues in round 18.
Dan Carter
Crusaders second-five Dan Carter is tackled by All Blacks team-mate and Blues prop Tony Woodcock.
Jerome Kaino
Jerome Kaino of the Blues is tackled by Andy Ellis of the Crusaders during their round 18 Super Rugby match in Christchurch.
Colin Slade
Colin Slade shows his courage on a scything run against the Highlanders in round 19 of Super Rugby.
Colin Slade
Crusaders wing Nemani Nadolo fights for the ball in midair with Highlanders opposite Richard Buckman.
Colin Slade
New Zealand's top first five eighth Dan Carter on the break against the Highlanders.
Colin Slade
Israel Dagg shows his deft touch, unloading the ball while aerial in the tackle of Highlanders wing Patrick Osbourne.
Colin Slade
A Crusaders horseman spurs cheers from the Christchurch crowd ahead of their clash with the Highlanders.

Ryan Crotty is not unaccustomed to having his heels hanging over the Super Rugby abyss.

Crusaders skipper Crotty struggled to explain his side's lacklustre display, especially in the first half, during Saturday night's 16-9 loss at the Cake Tin but as he mined for positives he noted his team's ability to rebound from past poor performances is proof they can still pack a knockout punch when it matters.

"I don't know what it is about us but history would suggest that when we are really under pressure we really pull finger and go well," an exasperated Crotty reflected.

Referee Mike Fraser tells captains Jeremy Thrush and Ryan Crotty (r
COME ON, GUYS: Referee Mike Fraser tells captains Jeremy Thrush and Ryan Crotty (right) to calm their teams down.

"That's when we get ahead. I don't think we get complacent but now we are desperate the boys are going to have really go up a gear."

Crotty knows these are desperate times.

Victory in Wellington would have lifted the Crusaders to 45 points, alongside the second-placed Sharks.

Advertisement

Although the Crusaders still lead the NZ conference, they have a superior win ratio to the Highlanders (also on 42 points), this run home is going to be extremely tight.

To guarantee themselves a play-offs berth they must win at least one of their remaining regular season matches against the Blues and Highlanders at AMI Stadium.

Midfielder Crotty has the unappealing task of containing the in-form Ma'a Nonu next weekend and knows the Blues, who walloped the Force 40-14 in Perth, will hope for a clear night to try and utilise the attacking thrust provided by Lolagi Visinia, Frank Halai, George Moala and Nonu. Charles Piutau may also be fit after missing the June tests with a knee injury.

Had Canes forward Blade Thomson not scored his late runaway try the Crusaders could have salvaged a win but the reality is their performance wasn't worthy of a victory.

While the Crusaders were without Richie McCaw, Israel Dagg and Nemani Nadolo, the Hurricanes were missing Conrad Smith and lost key players Victor Vito and Alapati Leiua early.

It was frustrating to see aimless kicking gift Julian Savea easy attacking opportunities.

"We did lots of things that we prepared not do which was frustrating and just turned over the ball too cheaply," Crotty conceded.

"They played well in that first half but I guess what it came down to was they were more physical than us and their breakdown was better."

At least the defence, he said, was committed for long periods but the absence of giant wing Nadolo couldn't be used as an excuse.

"We didn't lose because Nems wasn't there. It was just that we didn't execute well enough."

The Press