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‘Don’t think the dynasty is over’: Why the Crusaders aren’t panicking

By Finn Morton
(Photo by Hannah Peters/Getty Images)

As the adage goes, all good things must come to an end. The Crusaders have won six Super Rugby titles in as many years, but their era of dominance might be a thing of the past.

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Former All Blacks winger Jeff Wilson expressed that opinion on Sky Sport’s The Breakdown after the Chiefs’ 34-24 win over the Crusaders in Hamilton last weekend.

The ladder-leading Chiefs extended their unbeaten start to the campaign, while the Crusaders slumped to their third loss of the season – now sitting in fifth on the ladder after 10 rounds.

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For many years now, the Crusaders have been the top dogs in Super Rugby. To see them in second place would be abnormal, but for them to occupy fifth was simply unimaginable.

But following their somewhat uncharacteristic start to the season, which included just one win from their first three starts, Wilson appeared all but ready to draw a line through their name.

“I think this could be the end of the Crusaders’ dynasty,” Wilson said on The Breakdown.

“They tried to play football in the round robin. Last night, they tried to do what they do in the knockout stages and it didn’t work.

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“They don’t have the same amount of depth and experience they’ve had in the past to be able to grind out those big moments, big plays.

“I thought the standard across the board, for these two teams in terms of skill execution, I think they let themselves down.

“It was tight, it was enthralling, but both teams know they can be better.”

Wilson said what he said, but the Crusaders aren’t panicking.

Crusaders hooker Brodie McAlister said the team is “slowly flying under the radar” ahead of the Super Rugby Pacific playoffs.

“Everyone can have their own opinions on things,” McAlister said on The Platform.

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“I don’t think the dynasty is over or anything, I think we’ve still got some great players, we’ve got some great players to come back from injury.

“We just slowly flying under the radar, slowly building.”

The Crusaders started their season with a disappointing 31-10 loss to the Chiefs in Christchurch, but managed bounce back with a win over the Highlanders in Super Round.

But things took a disastrous turn the next week as they were beaten by the Fijian Drua – one of the biggest upsets in Super Rugby history.

While Scott Robertson and co were able to find some form this season, some rugby fans and pundits are clearly unconvinced by their form.

Sitting just two competition points outside of the top four, the Crusaders could potentially move up the ladder with a win over the Western Force on Saturday.

“We’ve had our moments of brilliance and I think that Fiji game, going over and playing over there, it was pretty tough for the boys,” he said.

“We probably are flying under the radar.

“For us, it’s starting off with the Force this week and having a good game there and just really get into that five weeks and then get into the finals, that’s where your must-win games.

“The Crusaders, what we do really well is (in) that finals period, nail those big moments.”

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