Sam Cane pinpoints the breaking point for the Chiefs against the Crusaders
The Chiefs battled to keep themselves in the game against the Crusaders, who were in front from the opening score, but the home side ultimately fell short as the visitors continued to strike back.
The Fainga’anuku try looked to have put the game beyond doubt at 29-12 but the Chiefs mustered a try through reserve halfback Cortez Ratima after a break from Alex Nankivell to close the gap to 29-19.
The Chiefs were able to rally from a similar position just weeks ago stun the Crusaders in Christchurch with two tries in the final ten minutes of the game to steal it.
Captain Sam Cane pinpointed the moments after Ratima’s try after fielding the kick-off as the moment the game imploded for the home side.
“I thought when Cortez scored, we had about nine or 10 minutes to go there and there was only 10 points in the game, but then we exited really poorly from then. So it’s
something that we can control but a basic that we didn’t do well,” he said.
After botching the kick chase, the Crusaders were able to put the final nail in the coffin with a driving maul try to hooker Codie Taylor, the first maul try the Chiefs have conceded all year.
“We got penalised for being in the 10, they kicked for the corner and drove and got a try. It’s something we haven’t conceded all year so like I said, a couple of areas of our game that this season we’ve been priding ourselves on and going really well but unfortunately tonight it was a real step back in some of those areas.
“We’ll look at ourselves first and foremost but there has to be a lot of credit given to the Crusaders for the way that they attacked those areas in their game … better than us.”
Stand-in head coach Warren Gatland explained the challenges the Chiefs faced as the squad dealt with a Covid outbreak. He said it was ‘noticeable’ on the pitch the players that had been out of training all week.
“We had about 60 per cent of the players last week and we just managed to put a team on and we had a few guys that didn’t come back until later this week and it was noticeable for us in the coaches box that those players had been out for a week,” he said.
“Obviously, with Covid, some of them struggled tonight. But you just gotta put up with that.
“And then we lost some coaches, we lost some medical team and some strength and conditioners were out this week but every team has been facing the same sort of problems and
you just kind of be fluid and flexible in terms of the way you plan and prepare for the week.
“Changes happen – you see Clayton isn’t here, he hasn’t been here this week and we put plans and training things in place and later in the week he said could you step in and do the media stuff tonight.
“It’s been tough on all teams and hopefully over the next couple of weeks when things get a little bit back to normal and everyone’s back on board, it won’t be so much of a
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