First win brings great relief for Crusaders

LIAM NAPIER IN CHRISTCHURCH
Last updated 13:35 09/03/2014
Crusaders
Getty Images
AT LAST: Crusaders players celebrate victory over Stormers in Christchurch.

Related Links

Gifford: Crusaders still in eye of the storm Crusaders scrape past Stormers in Christchurch Massive pressure on Crusaders to win at home Israel Dagg winging it again for Crusaders Stormers' Burger named to face the Crusaders

Relevant offers

Super Rugby

Hurricanes captain Conrad Smith hopes Friday night's defeat is their last Fijian flyer Nemani Nadolo runs hot as Crusaders roll the Hurricanes in Nelson Chiefs' McKenzie brothers starting together for first time in home town of Invercargill Blues' George Moala found guilty of serious misconduct but escapes major punishment Highlanders franchise to gain private investment; Maori get game against Lions NSW Waratahs fail in bid to appeal Tolu Latu and Will Skelton bans for tackle on Sam Whitelock Plenty to gain for hungry Hurricanes against Crusaders in Nelson Super Rugby clash Chiefs' Liam Messam ruled out of Highlanders clash with shoulder injury Record Super Rugby crowd a prospect for Rugby Park Highlanders winger Waisake Naholo 'excited' by speculation of All Black callup

Relief was the overwhelming emotion for the Crusaders last night as they scraped past the Stormers in Christchurch.

The red and black machine stumbled out of neutral with their first character-building victory of the season, a result that breathed much-needed life into their stuttering campaign.

"It was ugly and we didn't play too well but we're happy," All Black Israel Dagg summed up the mood of his side. "This is huge. Three losses, it would have been a sad Sunday."

Coach Todd Blackadder could sense an immediate weight lifted from his players' shoulders. Collectively, they will now hope renewed confidence allows them to relax and play with some form of attacking freedom.

"We're a long way off where we want to be. Teams would have seen that," Dagg said. "We're too narrow. We're not attacking space. We're attacking into the heart of their defence so we need to work on that."

In a battle of wills, Blackadder praised his side's temperament and guts but also noted there was plenty to work on.

"At the moment it looks like we're thinking too much rather than having a go," he said. "It's good to get some numbers on the board. This competition is incredibly tough."

Tasman rookie Kieron Fonotia scored the Crusaders' only try with his first touch of the ball off the bench, while Tom Taylor nailed a match-winning penalty and pulled off a try-saving tackle to avoid a horrid 0-3 hole.

"It's massive relief," Fonotia said. "It was a bit touch and go there for a while but you could feel the momentum shift."

Taylor highlighted the difference the one-point win would have on the Crusaders' belief and mindset as they travel to Melbourne this week. The first five-eighth was relieved to nail the last-gasp penalty after missing a conversion and struggling in the first round with kicking issues against the Chiefs.  

"The one before that I missed I was disappointed but I hit it straight down the middle and it turned out well," he said.

"You could tell out there we really wanted it. At times things didn't go our way We've lacked a bit of passion and we showed that tonight, mainly through our defence."

Ad Feedback

- Fairfax Media

Special offers
Opinion poll

Which 2015 NZ Super Rugby team looks best?

Blues

Chiefs

Crusaders

Highlanders

Hurricanes

Vote Result

Featured Promotions

Sponsored Content