Todd Blackadder's plan falling into place
Todd Blackadder reckoned he couldn't have scripted it better as his Crusaders won through to their 12th consecutive Super Rugby semifinal last night.
But the trick now, he admits, is to retain the urgency and commitment that was a trademark of one of the great post-season performances from the red-and-blacks, as they kept their perfect home playoff record intact at 15 from 15.
It's been five years since the Crusaders last lifted the silverware, but with their star All Blacks all firing, and their role players thriving, they are going to be tough to peg back from here.
"You couldn't have written a better script," said a rapt coach Blackadder. "We've had our highs and lows this season, and at times we haven't fired, but the commitment is there and everyone has got their heads in the right place.
"This is a really determined group who really want to do well and what we saw out there tonight is everyone on the same page and aligned about what they wanted to achieve."
Blackadder all but confirmed Richie McCaw would remain on the bench after a promising 15-minute cameo. "You couldn't fault the way [flanker] Matt Todd played tonight, and we'll probably resist the urge to make change for change's sake," he said.
Dan Carter paid tribute to his forwards for providing a great platform. "After the June test window we've bounced back really well and connected well as a team. We're building some nice momentum at the right time of the season. In knockout footy anything can happen but we live to fight another week, which is exciting."
Reds coach Ewen McKenzie refused to criticise the Crusaders' fans for their constant jeering of Quade Cooper throughout the match, even though home fullback Israel Dagg tweeted afterwards that he was "disappointed by the boos".
"The crowd was keeping itself amused I suppose, but in the end Quade did quite well out there," said McKenzie. "I don't think there was much in that."
Sunday Star Times