Crusaders 'are not invincible'
IN THE SPOTLIGHT: The Crusaders’ 21-all draw with the Sharks has certainly dented their superiority status and amplified a problematic area.
The defending-champions Crusaders outscored the Sharks by three tries to none, winning them a try-scoring bonus point.
However, they conceded 15 penalties in the match, with a number of those coming at scrum time.
This is not the first time the nine-time champions’ scrums put them on the back-foot.
Just two weeks ago the side’s pack also struggled against the Lions during a 31-10 win resulting in them spending the bulk of last week dissecting the under-performing set-piece. The scrum coach Jason Ryan even brought in All Blacks scrum guru Mike Cron to help alleviate the ever-growing concern.
Despite the extra help, the Crusaders were again undone by South African opposition, which Kieran Read fully believes was due to Sharks’ tactics and not his side’s errors.
“From our point of view, we want to scrum, we want to get the ball and get out. When you’ve got a team, which is potentially trying tricks and isn’t doing the same thing every scrum, you’re going to scrums which go down and don’t complete,” Read told Stuff.
“When one scrum is wanting to scrum and to keep it up, I don’t think we got rewarded for that. It’s important for refs to hopefully learn from that.”
He added: “It’s important we don’t let that boil over into the rest of our game. We’re doing work on it. But as I said, when a team just wants to pull back on a scrum and you’re hitting like you have previously, and they’ve taken it, the scrum is going to go down,”
“And if the ref is not going to ping them for it and they get away with it, then it’s just going to become a fight and you don’t get any reward.”
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It’s certainly important for the Crusaders to correct their pack conundrum before they face a Bulls team whose scrums have been a hallmark thus far.
The Bulls front row of Springbok prop Trevor Nyakane, hooker Jaco Visagie and Lizo Gqoboka showed their impeccable scrummaging skills during the win over Waratahs.
And according to Bulls captain Handre Pollard, they will certainly be up for another physical challenge.
“We’re going to have to expect them to perform the same next week,” Pollard told reporter when asked about the forward’s influential during the match.
“We’ll have to be very hard on each other this week, we’ve got some great stuff to work on, we’ll work on it and it’s got to be like that next week,”
Meanwhile, Bulls coach Pote Human said that the Sharks have handed his side a timely blueprint ahead of Friday’s clash in Pretoria.
“I think the Crusaders have been woken up. They’ll come to Loftus and they’ll be on a mission,” he said.
“The Sharks showed they are not invincible. The Waratahs have also beaten them. It is going to require a huge effort from everyone.”
Following Friday’s fixture, the Crusaders will face Stormers at Newlands, while the Bulls embark on a four-week Australia tour.
Source: @rugby365com & @NZStuff