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Concerning signs for New Zealand rugby

By AAP
Codie Taylor. (Photo by Daniel Carson/Photosport)

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After 12 Super Rugby titles, the Crusaders often are a reliable bellwether for the state of New Zealand rugby.

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For that reason their 24-21 loss to the Chiefs in the fourth round of Super Rugby Pacific on Saturday might be an early cause of concern for the All Blacks as they look ahead to a challenging international season.

There were nine All Black in the Crusaders’ starting 15 against the Chiefs, including midfielders David Havili and Braydon Ennor, flyhalf Richie Mo’unga, lock Sam Whitelock and front-rowers Codie Taylor and Joe Moody.

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Back in the Game – RFU
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More would have been expected of a team of that strength than it produced.

Several try-scoring chances were bungled by handling errors and there were many more failings, tactical and technical, which have become almost symptomatic of the New Zealand section of the competition.

New Zealand Rugby recent wrote to the New Zealand government appealing for dispensation from COVID-19 regulations which limit crowds to a fraction of a stadium’s capacity. It may be debatable whether crowds would be larger if there were no limitations.

While matches between the New Zealand teams mostly have been close this season, the standard has been poor. Lack of ball retention and control, poor tactical and kicking options have made most matches low on spectator appeal.

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The Crusaders conceded the first try of Saturday’s match but rallied to lead 21-10 after 46 minutes. In normal circumstances, the Crusaders would have made that try an exclamation point in the match and gone on to win comfortably.

But they lost control of the match and spent most of the second half on defence, worn down by the Chiefs who won with two tries in the last six minutes.

“I’m proud of the effort, really proud of the effort and the care the boys showed around the defensive side of it but all of us will be frustrated because 21-10, 20 to go, we just couldn’t get the ball back,” Crusaders coach Scott Robertson said.

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“We know the Chiefs are courageous. They were desperate (and) took the opportunities at the end. We could have closed it out and didn’t.”

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