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'You could feel it all week': Crusaders captain Taylor on ambushing the Blues

By Ben Smith
Noah Hotham of the Crusaders celebrates with Sevu Reece, Codie Taylor and Dallas McLeod after scoring a try during the round 14 Super Rugby Pacific match between Crusaders and Blues at Apollo Projects Stadium, on May 25, 2024, in Christchurch, New Zealand. (Photo by Joe Allison/Getty Images)

The under-siege Crusaders topped a tumultuous week with a memorable 29-27 win over the table-leading Blues in front of a raucous crowd in Christchurch.

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The emotional result came after a week of celebration and regret. The club honoured their past players in their hall of fame ceremonies but off-hand comments from head coach Rob Penney made for a rocky week in the media.

The do-or-die fixture against their biggest rivals added to the energy in the match, with the Crusaders keeping their slim playoff hopes alive in the end.

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Captain Codie Taylor said the team was able to turn around the winning moments that the side has been missing this season.

“I think it’s been there, I just think we haven’t capitalised on opportunities,” Taylor explained to Sky Sport NZ.

“We lost a few moments in past games but a massive week for us, we knew what we were up against with the Blues, real class side, they deserve to be where they are.

“There was a lot of chat around our week and what it meant for the boys that have been before us and I’m glad we could get a result for them.”

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Boosted by the ongoing return of All Blacks like captain Codie Taylor, Ethan Blackadder and the return of Fergus Burke from injury, the Crusaders looked like the form team of old.

In his first game back in three weeks Blackadder crashed over for the first try, before a double to Blues prop Ofa Tu’ungafasi put the visitors up 15-7.

Points Flow Chart

Crusaders win +2
Time in lead
23
Mins in lead
49
29%
% Of Game In Lead
61%
84%
Possession Last 10 min
16%
0
Points Last 10 min
5

But the resilient Crusaders struck on the stroke of half-time through winger Chay Fihaki after a quick tap gamble to stay in the match.

AJ Lam extended the Blues lead to 22-12 but the Crusaders wouldn’t go away, with Fergus Burke pulling the strings on two Crusaders tries.

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A first phase strike saw Burke fire a long ball to Sevu Reece, who nearly scored, before Burke pulled the trigger on cross-field kick back to No 8 Christian Lio-Willie open back on the other side on the next phase.

It was Burke again slicing through the line to set-up another, linking with Chay Fihaki who produced a wild inside pass to halfback Noah Hotham for the Crusaders to take the lead with 20 minutes remaining.

On staying alive and building confidence, Taylor said that the win was ‘huge’ after an inspirational week inside the Crusaders camp.

“I think we’ve got a wee chance there still, that’s huge for us,” he said.

“It’s been a tough season for us obviously. We connected on Monday, we knew what we were up for, the boys dug in deep, you could feel it all week.

“Especially after yesterday, going along to the legacy lunch being a part of that and how much it means to those that went before us.

“We just wanted to show them how much it means to be a Crusader.”

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Comments

1 Comment
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Graham 29 days ago

Great work Codie Taylor and well said. Codie was inspirational in his role as captain and hooker for the Crusaders on Saturday night. That quick tap that lead to a try, a great example.

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Mzilikazi 50 minutes ago
Is Ireland versus South Africa a battle for the title of ‘world champions’?

Very good article, Nic, and I find agreement with what you write virtually 100%. I think this two mach series has increasingly become one which will be very difficult for Ireland to win. After the first game of the last 6N, I would have been very full of confidence taking on the Boks in SA. France beaten by a big margin in France, it looked as if Ireland had emerged in fine form from the World Cup, despite the very narrow loss to the AB’s. But after that game, a slide began, ending with the defeat to England. Ireland were very fortunate to win this years 6N ! And as you so fully expose, this has not been a good season for Leinster, or indeed, in my view, for any Irish province. The Leinster loos to the Bulls, and then Munster letting a glorious chance slip to the Glasgow Warriors down at Thomond. Man, that one will really hurt. And both Connacht and Ulster have at times looked very poor this seaso, bith heavily beaten on occassion. The loss of both Gibson Park and Keenan are huge blows, especially Gibson Park. And there is really only one clear class 10 in the touring party, Jack Crowley, and he is still a very young player learning his trade. If he goes down, heaven help Ireland. And in my view, Ireland do not have a good scrummaging front row, SA do, and in great depth too. But despite all this doom and gloom, I always believe my team can win. Not that they will win, just can ! Ireland will still field what is the best and most talented team overall that I have seen in my lifetime. But the coaching group will really have to step up, no awful decisions like the one made against the AB’s in the QF….keeping the totally spent and poorly performing(on the day) Sexton on for the full 80mins, leaving Crowley on the sidelines. Ireland should never have lost that game !

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S
Shaylen 3 hours ago
Is Ireland versus South Africa a battle for the title of ‘world champions’?

Ireland have all the tools required to hurt SA. They develop quick ball, hold onto the ball for long periods, stretch the game when its on, have powerful mobile forwards, a good kicking game and they can hold their own in the scrum. They also can force turnovers regularly and in general do well at the breakdown. When Munster, the Ospreys and Glasgow all won games in SA this year against the Bulls and Stormers they did just that and won. It is also the reason why Ireland won the game at the world cup last year. The problem for Ireland is that SA have all the tools required to hurt them as well and hurt them a great deal more than England did in the Six Nations. They are physical and powerful at the set piece, they rush up and counter the Irish attacking system and they can really attack the breakdown and slow your ball down. Their counterattacking threat is also a big weapon and they score many tries from turnover turning defence into offence in a second. Toulouse and the Bulls nailed Leinster in this way and Glasgow did the same thing to Munster. So the series will be really interesting because both sides are so good at countering each other. Interested to see what kind of surprises Tony Brown springs and how the SA game develops. Feel like SA have more potential to surprise Ireland but then a new coaching set up as well as the fact that Japanese and foreign based players tend to take about 5 to 6 weeks to get up to speed might work in Irelands favour. SA have shipped at least one game in 4 of the last 5 June/July test windows going back to 2018 for this exact reason.

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F
Flankly 5 hours ago
'Let them keep talking' - Mike Catt claps back over Bok remarks

The comments were reported weirdly. De Allende did say it would be war, but he said it amidst comments like “Ireland play such good footy”, and “they are so good at the breakdown”. He said that the Boks lost heavily to Ireland a few years back and that they felt the Irish press was dismissive of the Boks. I don’t recall that, but I suppose it is true, and that SA players would want to turn around that sentiment. The RWC loss to Ireland would naturally pour fuel on the fire. In short, it is a natural thing for passionate players like him to feel very strongly about the goal of registering a convincing series win against Ireland. There is really nothing to see here. As an aside, the SA team shouldn’t be too self-righteous about this kind of a situation. Recall that in 2004, after SA won the Ireland series in SA, Jake White noted that no more than two Irish players were good enough for selection in his Bok side. "Considering the facts, I think only two of their players would be included in the Bok team - O'Driscoll (centre) and maybe one of the locks. How could we have lost against the Irish?" O’Driscoll disagreed and said that it was close, and Ireland were just tired. My Irish friends were pretty incensed by the comments, quite rightly. And I am sure it was part of the energy that drove them to some famous wins against the Boks. The Etzebeth thing was a little different. I think he was just not hearing what was being said. It is not that unusual for someone to say “We will see you in the final”. Of course it is a statement of confidence, which every team should have, but it is also a compliment. I think there was a cultural fly-by, in which a “see you soon” comment was taken to mean “we will beat you again”. But it was a good story, and a convenient clickbaity headline. I don’t think anyone is intentionally trying to rile up anything. But if you interview a Bok player and prod them about their passion wrt the Ireland tour, you are likely to hear some pretty heartfelt words. And so you should.

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