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'In the media it's a good story line': Robertson responds to talk of Crusaders era being over

By AAP
(Photo by Paul Kane/Getty Images)

Crusaders coach Scott Robertson has praised his team’s ability to overcome adversity as the 12-time champions gear up for a season-defining clash with the Brumbies on Friday.

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The Crusaders overcame a COVID-19 outbreak to post a thumping 53-15 win over the Western Force in Perth on Saturday night.

Oli Jager, Zach Gallagher, Mitch Drummond and Dominic Gardiner were all withdrawn on medical grounds before the match, but the Crusaders still managed to produce an eight-tries-to-two bonus-point romp.

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The Crusaders had entered the match under extreme pressure following two losses from their past three games, with some people even questioning whether the golden era that had produced five Super titles in five years was over.

Robertson was thrilled with the response in the face of adversity.

“We’ve had a lot going on, but the guys that came in and performed tonight were really brave and did it with heart,” Robertson said.

“I think it’s just natural (people are doubting us). In the media it’s a good story line. People are waiting.

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“People want that headline and that’s part of it. We expect it.”

The Crusaders will take plenty of precautions in a bid to avoid any more COVID-19 cases.

“There’s a few guys who still haven’t had it, so they’re the ones that have the potential to have it in the next week or two when you’re travelling and you’ve got airports and you’re getting out in the public,” he said.

The second-placed Brumbies are proving to be NZ giant killers after beating the Highlanders, Hurricanes and Chiefs over the past three weeks.

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The third-placed Crusaders are four points adrift of the Brumbies, making Friday night’s clash a blockbuster affair in the battle for a top-two berth.

“I think it’ s a great challenge for us. The Brumbies have set the tone on both sides of the ditch,” Robertson said.

“I think this (win over the Force) has really set us up for a great battle next week. These are the games you want to be a part of.”

The Force trailed the Crusaders by just three points early in the second half before conceding the final five tries of the match.

Despite their 2-8 record, the 10th-placed Force remain in the hunt for the eighth and final play-off position.

The Force are just three points adrift of the eighth-placed Highlanders, and they have a game in hand on their NZ rivals.

The two sides lock horns in Dunedin on Friday night in a clash that will be pivotal to deciding who finishes eighth.

“It’s a must-win,” Force coach Tim Sampson said.

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