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Crusaders' season could 'spiral uncontrollably'

REACTION: Coach Rob Penney said the Crusaders’ season could “spiral uncontrollably” after New Zealand’s traditional Super Rugby powerhouses slumped to the bottom of the competition standings.

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The seven-time defending champions are the only winless team through five rounds after the Western Force got off the mark with a 40-31 upset of the Queensland Reds in Perth on Saturday.

The Force jumped ahead of the Crusaders, whose 6-26 loss to the Blues at Eden Park was the heaviest defeat so far of what threatens to be a demoralising campaign.

Penney’s team were guilty of missed tackles, basic handling errors and a misfiring line-out, and he conceded they needed to address obvious shortcomings.

“If the group start looking out the window instead of in the mirror it could spiral uncontrollably,” Penney told reporters.

“But my hope is in the fact the group is well connected and they’re proud men.

“You can’t fix everything. You’ve got to pick the critical few and hope they make a big enough impact so we can get a result.”

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An extensive injury list will worsen after captain David Havili was replaced in the second half with a sore calf muscle.

Penney said midfield back Havili will need “a period of time” to recover, making him the seventh All Black squad member unavailable for selection when they host the second-placed Chiefs in Christchurch on Friday.

Meanwhile, Force coach Simon Cron believed his side’s first win should make the start of a revival.

“I still don’t think, by any stretch of the imagination, that will be our best performance,” Cron said.

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“The first half was a good example of the type of rugby those boys can play, and our team can play.”

The unbeaten Hurricanes lead after five rounds, while the Chiefs, Blues and Brumbies have all dropped one game.

 

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