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Timing right, execution off on Carter droppie
Dan Carter defended his decision to rush his late drop goal attempt at Waikato Stadium.
Had Carter's shot in the 77th minute succeeded the Crusaders would have taken a 22-20 lead and probably qualified for the Super Rugby final against the Brumbies in Canberra.
Instead the sabbatical-bound All Black, who will not be available for the Crusaders next year, swung the ball past the left upright after electing to kick it on the run.
"I wanted to have a shot before the defence knew I was having a go," revealed Carter.
"Sometimes you can slow the play down and then it becomes obvious you are going for a drop goal."
The Crusaders, who earlier trailed 20-9, had ground their way into the Chiefs half after Aaron Cruden botched a re-start minutes earlier.
Carter, sensing it was obvious the Crusaders were setting-up for a drop goal, decided to act.
Rather than allow the Chiefs to set the defence he snapped off his attempt - his second of the night after an earlier one in the first half did well to get off above sea level.
"I thought it was the perfect time for it but unfortunately I was a little off-balance and I pushed it wide.
"And that's the beauty of a drop goal, if you do miss you get the ball back from the opposition 22m.
"We still had a couple of minutes up our sleeve and got into some territory but we unfortunately couldn't get over the line."
Carter has yet to publicly declare what he will do during his sabbatical.
But it is understood he has given the Crusaders advance warning, allowing them to recruit Colin Slade from the Highlanders and keep Tyler Bleyendaal and Tom Taylor.
Coach Todd Blackadder, sensing he wasn't getting as much value out of Carter as he wished, took the vice-captain's duties off him to ease his leadership workload this season.
"A lot of enjoyment came back into the side and if next year we can take the learnings from this it would help," Carter said.
While Richie McCaw will be back for the whole season the Crusaders must learn to cope without Carter for the first time since his original sabbatical in 2009.
Meanwhile, even if the Crusaders advanced to the final they may have struggled with injuries.
Wyatt Crockett, Corey Flynn and Tom Taylor suffered medial ligament injuries against the Chiefs and will be assessed today.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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