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Fans call into question the Crusaders' tactics as repeated warnings go unpunished

By Online Editors
Referee Ben O'Keeffe during the Crusaders and Highlanders derby. (Photo by Kai Schwoerer/Getty Images)

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The Crusaders played spoilers on Friday night with a comprehensive 43-17 win over the Highlanders on what was Ben Smith’s 150th appearance for the club.


After a tight first half where the Highlanders built an early 10-0 lead, the Crusaders exploded with 36 unanswered points, overcoming a 10-7 half time deficit.

However, despite the brilliance of the Crusaders, their questionable contests at the breakdown came under the spotlight as referee Ben O’Keeffe failed to take action until the 80th minute.

After repeated warnings, only after the fulltime buzzer did he decide to go to the pocket to yellow card Crusaders replacement prop Ben Funnel.



Highlanders captain Ben Smith was heard on the referee mic early in the match asking the referee to police the ruck area as he said his side wanted to play with tempo and was concerned the Crusaders were deliberately slowing the ball down.

The Hurricanes who were hammered by the Crusaders 32-8 in Wellington also suffered similar issues and it was again referee Ben O’Keeffe who left the breakdown unmanaged.

Will anyone be able to stop the Crusaders if they are allowed to make a mockery of the ruck every week?

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Fans call into question the Crusaders' tactics as repeated warnings go unpunished