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'Adults versus kids': Ex-Wallaby says Crusaders are now out of the picture

By Ben Smith
The Crusaders huddle before the second half during the round nine Super Rugby Pacific match between Western Force and Crusaders at HBF Park on April 20, 2024, in Perth, Australia. (Photo by Janelle St Pierre/Getty Images)

Former Wallaby Mat Rogers has put a fork through the Crusaders’ playoff hopes after the side’s 37-15 defeat at the hands of the Western Force.

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Despite the two sides being coming into the game with just one win each in 11th and 12th place respectively, the home side rallied to deliver a spirited showing in Kurtley Beale’s debut.

“The Crusaders, they had 14 turnovers tonight, I think half of them would have been from solid defensive hits from the Force,” Rogers explained.

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“They were in their faces all night.”

Dual code international Allana Ferguson compared the Crusaders to children after watching the Force maul demolish them for a third time.

“What about that, that just looks like adults versus kids, that was outstanding,” Ferguson said of the Force’s final maul try.

The Force travel to New Zealand to face the Highlanders, the Chiefs and before returning home to face the Fijian Drua and NSW Waratahs.

Match Summary

5
Penalty Goals
0
4
Tries
3
1
Conversions
0
0
Drop Goals
0
72
Carries
141
4
Line Breaks
5
6
Turnovers Lost
13
7
Turnovers Won
4

Rogers believed that two of the game are winnable, putting them in the hunt for the final eight but he was prepared to write off the Crusaders chances.

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“The confidence that they’ll take off the back of this, Kurtley slotting into that side, he’s only been there a week,” Rogers said of the Force.

“Give him a couple more he will get better, the confidence will grow from within the team. Who knows what the future holds for this team, but they are going to put themselves in the picture.

“I’ve now taken the Crusaders out of that picture. I don’t think they can get there.”

The Crusaders travel home for two games against Australian sides, the Rebels and the Reds, before the southern derby against the Highlanders.

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They then play the Brumbies in Canberra before returning home to play rivals the Blues.

“Yeah, the Crusaders are gone for me too,” Ferguson agreed.

“What I liked about the Force’s game tonight was it was quite balanced. They were successful in a few different ways. Their attack in the first half I thought was pretty good and the defence was what won it for them in the end.

“Obviously the rolling maul was on fire as well, I thought they were pretty well balanced in how they got the win over the Crusaders.”

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Jon 23 hours ago
Why Sam Cane's path to retirement is perfect for him and the All Blacks

> It would be best described as an elegant solution to what was potentially going to be a significant problem for new All Blacks coach Scott Robertson. It is a problem the mad population of New Zealand will have to cope with more and more as All Blacks are able to continue their careers in NZ post RWCs. It will not be a problem for coaches, who are always going to start a campaign with the captain for the next WC in mind. > Cane, despite his warrior spirit, his undoubted commitment to every team he played for and unforgettable heroics against Ireland in last year’s World Cup quarter-final, was never unanimously admired or respected within New Zealand while he was in the role. Neither was McCaw, he was considered far too passive a captain and then out of form until his last world cup where everyone opinions changed, just like they would have if Cane had won the WC. > It was never easy to see where Cane, or even if, he would fit into Robertson’s squad given the new coach will want to be building a new-look team with 2027 in mind. > Cane will win his selections on merit and come the end of the year, he’ll sign off, he hopes, with 100 caps and maybe even, at last, universal public appreciation for what was a special career. No, he won’t. Those returning from Japan have already earned the right to retain their jersey, it’s in their contract. Cane would have been playing against England if he was ready, and found it very hard to keep his place. Perform, and they keep it however. Very easy to see where Cane could have fit, very hard to see how he could have accomplished it choosing this year as his sabbatical instead of 2025, and that’s how it played out (though I assume we now know what when NZR said they were allowing him to move his sabbatical forward and return to NZ next year, they had actually agreed to simply select him for the All Blacks from overseas, without any chance he was going to play in NZ again). With a mammoth season of 15 All Black games they might as well get some value out of his years contract, though even with him being of equal character to Richie, I don’t think they should guarantee him his 100 caps. That’s not what the All Blacks should be about. He absolutely has to play winning football.

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