Blackadder fires shot at Chiefs ahead of semi

RICHARD KNOWLER
Last updated 05:02 26/07/2013
Todd Blackadder
KIRK HARGREAVES/Fairfax NZ
SHOTS FIRED: Todd Blackadder has accused the Chiefs of illegally obstructing players ahead of their semi-final tomorrow night.

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Todd Blackadder has drawn first blood.

Having alleged the Chiefs' tactics of using support runners to knock over opposition defenders is illegal, Crusaders coach Blackadder has fired the opening shot ahead of tomorrow night's Super Rugby semi-final at Waikato Stadium.

After sifting through footage of the Chiefs' past performances, Blackadder believes some referees and their assistants have been too lenient in allowing the defending champions to wipe-out tacklers and profit by generating quick ruck ball.

When the Crusaders beat the Chiefs 43-15 in their most recent meeting on July 5, referee Jonathon White penalised the Waikato-based side six times in the first 20 minutes - many for ruck infringements.

But it is the obstructions that appear to be worrying Blackadder.

"I thought he (White) had a great game because he picked-up all the obstruction past the ball carrier which made a big difference," Blackadder said.

"And I thought they did the same thing against the Blues (the following weekend).

"In the very first game when we played them there was a lot of obstruction - we got taken out well and truly past their ball carrier, which makes it very easy for them to get really quick ball."

Blackadder no doubt wants referee Steve Walsh and his assistants Glen Jackson and Chris Pollock to keep their eyes peeled for the Chiefs' tactics at Waikato Stadium.

Walsh controlled the first derby match between the Chiefs and Crusaders at Waikato Stadium on May 24 - won 28-19 by the home side who went on to claim the New Zealand conference title and win the minor premiership.

The penalty count that night was 8-all. White favoured the Chiefs 10-9 in Christchurch.

While the Crusaders were forced to play the qualifying final against the Reds last weekend, beating them 38-9, the Chiefs had the weekend off and have been preparing a frosty welcome in Hamilton.

This week the Crusaders have worked on ways to negate the Chiefs' support runners and slowing their breakdown delivery without earning the wrath of Walsh.

"We have just targeted that to make sure we are really disciplined in that area," Blackadder added.

"That our tackles are dominant and we are putting the right amount of pressure on."

The Chiefs were missing All Blacks No 6 Liam Messam on July 5 because of a back complaint but coach Dave Rennie offered no excuses following that 28-point walloping.

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"We were outmuscled, out-thought, outplayed and probably out-coached as well."

When asked what positives he could take from defeat, Rennie paused and said with a wry smile: "There's some nice chicken in the changing shed."

Having again listed no specialist lock in the reserves - Tom Donnelly hasn't been required to suit-up - Blackadder will rely on Richie McCaw and Luke Whitelock to add some sting in the second spell.

"That could possibly be the winning and the losing of the game - the guys that come off the bench and can do the job under pressure."

George Whitelock is again expected to move into the second row if either younger brother Sam or Luke Romano are subbed off.

Blackadder said he had no regrets about keeping All Blacks captain McCaw on the bench.

"Mentally, he could have (started). There is no doubt about that but maybe his form might not quite be where it is meant to be in these really high-intensity games.

"That would be putting him under a lot of pressure."

- The Press

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