Less whistle, more action, says Blackadder

Last updated 05:00 17/03/2014
Todd Blackadder
JOSPEH JOHNSON/ Fairfax NZ
SEARCHING FOR ANSWERS: The Crusaders have time to improve their performances, but the coaching staff may need help understanding the current state of officiating in Super Rugby.

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Comprehending referees' decisions should keep Todd Blackadder occupied during the bye week.

The Crusaders' unconvincing form continued during their 25-19 win over the Rebels on Friday night but coach Blackadder was grateful to escape Melbourne unscathed from unpredictable Aussie whistler James Leckie.

"I don't know what the referee had to do, give out some yellows, but I thought he took a lot of our momentum away from our attack by their continuous infringements," Blackadder remarked.

"By halftime I don't think we had strung any more than four phases together and even if we did we were getting penalties for them. It was one of those games where it went from a couple of phases to a set-piece."

The Crusaders scored just one try to Ben Funnell, only their sixth in four Super Rugby matches, and relied on Tom Taylor to kick six penalties and a conversion.

The Rebels' willingness to give up kickable penalties aside, the Crusaders are still operating well below their potential. Charge-downs, inaccurate transfers, wobbly lineout throws and needless penalties added to this unconvincing display.

At least fixing those issues are within their control. Sorting out how to get the best of the officials is another matter.

Despite dominating the scrums the Crusaders got little traction out of Leckie who preferred to allocate penalties or call for resets rather than issue yellow cards.

"It's just so frustrating. There is reset after reset. That stop-start nature of the game makes it hard to get anything going," Blackadder, who believed his side weren't rewarded for having such a strong scrum, stated.

Fixing the problem could be solved by referees allowing halfbacks to feed the scrum immediately but that isn't allowed under the current laws.

Blues coach John Kirwan was also angry with the officials following his side's 39-26 loss to the Lions in Johannesburg.

TMO Johan Greeff told referee Stuart Berry to award a try to fullback Coenie van Wyk after Deon van Rensburg had the ball dislodged from his grasp by the Blues' Charles Piutau. Kirwan expected the officials to rule a knock-on.

"I'll be asking [Sanzar referees' boss] Lyndon Bray for a very strong verification," Kirwan said. "It came at a critical time when we were starting to flow. That's disappointing."

The Crusaders should be cautious about laughing at the Blues' misfortune. Greeff is slated to be the TMO for their match against the Lions in Jo'burg on April 6.

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Despite the bye, this will be no holiday week for the Crusaders who have some commercial obligations, fitness tests and a training to complete on Thursday.

Adding more dynamite to the backline remains a priority.

"With the bye this is a really good time to look at our attack," Blackadder acknowledged. "If anything, we can be more direct to let our game flow a lot more to get on the front foot a lot more."

Changes for the next match against the Hurricanes, in Christchurch on March 28, are expected to be minimal.

Slade is set to stay at No 10 and Tom Taylor and Ryan Crotty should continue their midfield partnership which was disbanded in the first three rounds to allow Reynold Lee-Lo to start at centre.

- The Press

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