Picking apart the Jaguares 19-3 in Saturday’s tense final underlined the adaptability of the 10-time champions, having ditched their early ball-in-hand approach because it didn’t suit the slippery Christchurch conditions and the tough tackling of the South Americans.
They turned instead to their own smothering defence and a reliance on pinpoint box kicks from halfback Bryn Hall, which set up the game’s only try to Codie Taylor.
Hall, one of the few non-All Blacks in the starting team, said there is every reason to believe the Crusaders can build on their current streak of three titles, even with a raft of key players and coaches moving on.
“One’s special, two’s amazing but three, you’re talking about having a dynasty,” Hall said.
Skipper Sam Whitelock won’t be seen until the 2021 campaign while coach Scott Robertson may not be back if he succeeds Steve Hansen as All Blacks coach next year.
Losing the charismatic Robertson would be a hammer blow for the Crusaders but one which Read said could still be overcome.
The All Blacks captain made his Super Rugby debut in 2007 and said the red and black formula will keep working, regardless of the personnel.
“We’re just really well set up from the top to the bottom of this organisation,” Read said.
“It’s just great fun to turn up and go to work, and put it out here on Friday and Saturday nights.”
Robertson said victory was satisfying because it capped a finals campaign in which they were fully tested, having earlier been pushed to stave off the attack-minded approach of the Highlanders and Hurricanes.
“It felt like the last three weeks have all been finals for us,” he said.
“We played a different team tactically in the Jaguares. We probably over-played it in the first 20 so we talked about one-pass footy.
“Let’s get boring, let’s go old school. Plug them in the corners.”
The Crusaders maintained their historically perfect record in home playoff games, having notched 24 wins.
It also stretched their competition-record winning streak in Christchurch to 31 games.
– AAPMore News
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