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'Look at everything really': Crusaders searching for answers after losing to 'dogged' Waratahs

By Ben Smith
(Photo by Jeremy Ng/Getty Images)

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The Crusaders became the second Kiwi side to go down to an Australian side on a weekend where all the New Zealand sides have been put under pressure.

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The Chiefs held off the fast finishing Reds to secure a two point victory 27-25 on Friday night, the Blues were pressured on the way to a 22-18 victory in Perth over the Force and the Highlanders escaped a rampant Drua coming away with a  27-24 win in Suva.

The slow starting Crusaders couldn’t prevent the Waratahs from joining the winner’s circle as they were outplayed from the get go.

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The Waratahs raced out to a 17-0 lead at halftime a they controlled proceedings in the slippery conditions on a dewy night at a packed Leichhardt Oval and closed out a 24-21 win, their first since 2019 over the Crusaders.

“We were on the back foot straight away, fourteen points down under a lot of pressure,” Crusaders head coach Scott Robertson said.

“A lot of simple stuff we proud ourselves on, we didn’t get right. They got a lot of momentum.

“In the last 20, we got plenty of opportunities and still didn’t finish.”

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Of concern was the way the Crusaders started for the second week in a row. They were slow out of the gate against the Rebels in Melbourne, struggling to a 7-3 halftime lead before exploding in the second half.

It was a similar story this week but the Waratahs were good enough to shut them out completely heading into the sheds which proved too much to overcome in the second forty minutes.

Head coach Scott Robertson admitted the side is looking for answers themselves and they would need to look at ‘everything’ to turn things around before they head into the finals.

“We are looking for the answer ourselves, to be fair,” he said.

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“We had a really good week, connected, good mindset, we know playing Aussie teams are a little bit different, how desperate they are, they are a dogged side the Waratahs.

“They put us under that pressure cycle that we just couldn’t quite get out of.

“How do we get better? We are going to have to have honesty, look at our week, look at everything really.

“Because it’s all there, we just have to complete some stuff.”

Crusaders captain Codie Taylor said that the loss mirrored the last time they were undone by the Waratahs in 2019, with similar conditions challenging the visitors which they didn’t adapt well enough too.

“I think the last two losses we’ve had against them it has been the same conditions around the weather and us not starting well,” Taylor said.

“They played really well to the conditions, they got that try straight away, they controlled the ruck really well, put the ball in the air and made it 50-50s.

“When it is dewy, even though it wasn’t raining, that’s the sort of game that if you don’t nail those little moments, you are straight under pressure.

“That was it in the first half.

“We struggled to get a roll on, then came out in the second half and got a couple shots but just didn’t finish.

“The Tahs played well and took their opportunities and they obviously wanted it.”

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