Crusaders ready to tackle South African double

06:23, Mar 24 2013
Dan Carter
Dan Carter flings it wide.
Crusaders
Crusaders win the lineout against the Blues at Eden Park.
Crusaders
The Crusaders gather behind their goal-line after conceding a try to the Blues.
Robbie Fruean
Robbie Fruean on the charge for the Crusaders against the Blues.
Kieran Read
Kieran Read looks on disconsolately after the Crusaders one-point loss to the Hurricanes.
Ryan Crotty
Ryan Crotty makes a break for the Crusaders.
Israel Dagg
Israel Dagg (centre) celebrates with team-mates after scoring against the Hurricanes.
Dan Carter
Dan Carter chases down the loose ball.
Crusaders v Bulls
Robbie Fruean celebrates his try as the Crusaders finally get a win this season over the Bulls.
Crusaders v Bulls
Ryan Crotty makes a break during the Crusaders win over the Bulls.
Crusaders v Bulls
Tom Marshall fends off a Bulls tackle.
Crusaders v Bulls
Zac Guildford watches from the stands as the Crusaders beat the Bulls.
Crusaders v Bulls
Captain Kieran Read was a standout in the Crusaders win over the Bulls in Christchurch.
Zac Guildford runs the ball against the Kings.
Zac Guildford runs the ball against the Kings.
Crusaders vs Kings
Dan Carter is a tackled by a Kings player.
Crusaders vs Kings
The Crusaders score a try against the Kings.
The Crusaders score a try against the Kings
The Crusaders score a try against the Kings
Crusaders 2013 Season
The Crusaders celebrate the win during the Super Rugby match between DHL Stormers and Crusaders in Cape Town.
Crusaders 2013 Season
Crusaders celebrate the try of Matt Todd during the Super Rugby match between DHL Stormers and Crusaders in Cape Town.
Crusaders 2013 Season
Tom Marshall of the Crusaders during the Super Rugby match between DHL Stormers and Crusaders in Cape Town.
Crusaders 2013 Season
Matt Todd of the Crusaders scores a try during the Super Rugby match between DHL Stormers and Crusaders in Cape Town.
Crusaders v Sharks
Owen Franks is tackled during the Crusaders 21-17 loss to the Sharks in Durban.
Crusaders v Sharks
Andy Ellis scores a try during the Crusaders' loss to the Sharks.
Crusaders v Sharks
Franco van der Merwe of the Sharks out-jumps Sam Whitelock.
Crusaders v Sharks
The Sharks celebrate their win over the Crusaders in Durban.
Crusaders v Force
Israel Dagg is tackled by the Force's Junior Raolea.
Crusaders v Force
Sam Whitelock breaks a line during the Crusaders' loss to the Force.
Crusaders v Force
Luke Romano dives over for a try which would later be disallowed.
Crusaders v Force
Robbie Fruean fends off Kyle Godwin as the Crusaders went down to the Force in Perth.
Crusaders gallery
The Crusaders celebrate after scoring a try against the Highlanders.
Crusaders gallery
Luke Whitelock charges into the Highlanders defence.
Crusaders gallery
Israel Dagg tries to evade the tackle.
Crusaders gallery
Zac Guildford chases after the loose ball.
Crusaders gallery
Owen Franks of the Crusaders charges into Nic Stirzaker of the Rebels.
Crusaders gallery
Ben Funnell is taken in the tackle by the Rebels.
Crusaders gallery
Dan Carter made his return to action for the Crusaders against the Rebels.
Crusaders gallery
George Whitelock leads the Crusaders on to AMI Stadium for the game against the Rebels.
Crusaders gallery
Dan Carter is taken in the tackle.
Crusaders gallery
Ryan Crotty on the charge against the Brumbies.
Crusaders gallery
Sam Whitelock gets a pass away in the tackle.
Crusaders gallery
Robbie Fruean (left) and Joe Moody celebrate after the Crusaders win over the Brumbies in Canberra.
Crusaders 2013 gallery
Andy Ellis talks to the crowd after being presented with a mere in recognition of playing 100 games for the Crusaders.
Crusaders 2013 gallery
Dan Carter unleashes a kick for the Crusaders against the Blues.
Crusaders 2013 gallery
Sam Whitelock takes breather during the clash against the Blues.
Crusaders 2013 gallery
Crusaders fans show their support for the team in the clash against the Blues.
Crusaders 2013
Ben Funnell spins the ball wide against the Chiefs.
Crusaders 2013
Zac Guildford (centre) and the Crusaders lament their loss to the Chiefs.
Crusaders 2013
Andy Ellis surveys his options from the base of the scrum against the Crusaders.
Crusaders 2013
Tom Taylor attempts a shot at goal against the Chiefs.
Crusaders season 2013
Dominic Bird of the Crusaders attended to by the team doctor during his side's Round 16 clash with the Waratahs in Christchurch.
Crusaders season 2013
Zac Guildford of the Crusaders passes the ball back to Kieran Read under pressure from Waratah Kane Douglas.
Crusaders season 2013
Luke Romano wins a lineout for the Crusaders against the Waratahs.
Crusaders season 2013
Michael Hopper of the Waratahs makes a charge against the Crusaders at AMI Stadium.
Super Rugby Gallery
Willi Heinz of the Crusaders is tackled by Ben Smith of the Highlanders during the round 18 Super Rugby match between the Highlanders and the Crusaders.
Super Rugby Gallery
Tom Marshall of the Crusaders is dumped by Ma'a Nonu of the Highlanders during the round 18 Super Rugby match between the Highlanders and the Crusaders.
Super Rugby Gallery
Highlanders player Ben Smith jumping in the air for the ball with Crusaders Matt Todd & Dan Carter.
Super Rugby Gallery
Highlanders player Hosea Gear being tackled by Crusaders players Dan Carter (left) & George Whitelock.
Super Rugby Gallery
Sam Whitelock of the Crusaders is tackled by Kade Poki of the Highlanders during the round 18 Super Rugby match between the Highlanders and the Crusaders.
Crusaders vs Chiefs
Crusaders fullback Israel Dagg celebrates.
Crusaders vs Chiefs
Crusaders first five-eighth Dan Carter.
Crusaders vs Chiefs
Crusaders Kieran Read on his way to the try-line.
Crusaders vs Chiefs
Kieran Read runs out at AMI stadium.
Crusaders vs Chiefs
Crusaders fullback Israel Dagg takes off.
Crusaders vs Chiefs
Crusaders centre Ryan Crotty tries to escape Chiefs flanker Sam Cane.
Crusaders gallery 2013
Kieran Read leads the Crusaders on to AMI Stadium for their final regular season game against the Hurricanes.
Crusaders gallery 2013
Halfback Willi Heinz gets a kick away against the Hurricanes.
Crusaders gallery 2013
Brothers Ben (left) and Owen Franks catch up after going head to head for the Hurricanes and Crusaders.
Crusaders gallery 2013
Dan Carter gestures to an assistant referee during the game against the Hurricanes.
Crusaders vs Reds
Ryan Crotty dives over to score for the Crusaders.
Crusaders vs Reds
Dan Carter strolls over the line to score a try.
Crusaders vs Reds
Richie McCaw looks on from the Crusaders bench during his side's Super Rugby qualifier with the Reds.
Crusaders vs Reds
Sam Whitelock takes on the Reds defence.
Chiefs vs Crusaders
Liam Messam takes on the Crusaders defence.
Chiefs vs Crusaders
Lelia Masaga has a cut at the Crusaders defence.
Chiefs vs Crusaders
Asaeli Tikoirotuma is downed by Owen Franks.

It doesn't get much tougher in Super Rugby than the Stormers-Sharks South African double, but Todd Blackadder senses the brutal road trip comes at just the right time for his resurgent Crusaders.

The seven-time champs banked their second straight bonus point victory on Saturday night at AMI Stadium when they thumped new chums the Southern Kings 55-20, seven tries to two, with a pretty comprehensive 80-minute performance.

The Crusaders tidied up the errors that blighted their opening quarter against the Bulls a week previous and produced the sort of sustained excellence that suggests they're right back on track after that wobbly old start that saw them lose back-to-back games against Kiwi rivals on the road.

It was a miniscule turnaround for the red and blacks who barely had time to inhale the victory on Saturday before they were at the airport in the early hours of Sunday morning making the long haul to the Republic.

That they're now facing the two most complete South African sides, well rested back in their home strongholds, just makes the task more interesting, reckons Blackadder.

"We're always ready for the challenge," he said. "What I'm sensing from the team at the moment is there's an enormous self-belief there. Every week we're making continual gains and we're learning and growing.

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"We're not the complete package yet -- we probably won't ever be -- but we're making good gains and the guys are fast learners...this will be a good opportunity to get away, get even tighter, and critique the things we need to work on.

"We know the challenge, but it's one game at a time. The Stormers will be tough."

Blackadder was confident niggling injuries to Israel Dagg (hamstring), Owen Franks (Achilles) and Kieran Read (toe) would not take them out of the picture for the Stormers game, though Tom Taylor still needs another week to get his knee right, leaving Tyler Bleyendaal as the fill-in for Dan Carter who's staying home to be with wife Honor for the birth of their first baby.

"It's a good opportunity for Tyler. He's been playing really well for a long time. It's his chance to shine, I expect him to go in and do his job, and everyone else to do theirs.

"It's not like we're all going to down the tools and he's got to get in there and do everything. He's just got to perform his basic tasks really well, so I don't think it should be much of a shift."

Blackadder was more than content with the improvement his team showed in putting away a Kings outfit that showed plenty of willingness early against a relentless tide of Crusaders possession.

"The first 20 I thought we executed really well. We did the simple things well, and just didn't make as many errors. I thought we got into the framework really well and everyone worked bloody hard.

"They were certainly tough. They're a new team, they've got some new players, and at times they showed that a little it. But you've still got to work hard, to earn the right to go round them. It would have been easy to have been complacent, but Super Rugby is not like that. You've got to work for it."

Meanwhile hat-trick hero George Whitelock was typically nonplussed at what he figured was his first three-try haul in rugby since his school days at Feilding High.

"It's always good to have a first," he shrugged after picking up two tries in the first half and adding the third late in the game. "It's just a bit of luck, but it's good to finish off those opportunities."

Blackadder reckoned the hard-working flanker was rewarded for running excellent lines, but Whitelock was more pleased that the team had made another major move up the improvement graph.

"We're getting better week by week," he said. "It was definitely a step up from last week. We didn't start as poorly as last week, we decreased the errors which is always pleasing. Now we get on the plane and look forward to three weeks together and enjoying a tough tour."

The Crusaders meet the Stormers at Newlands next Sunday morning, NZ time.

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