Super Rugby round nine
Crusaders look to raise bar against Force
April 12, 2013
Crusaders prop Owen Franks looks to offload, Sharks v Crusaders, Super Rugby, Kings Park, Durban, April 5, 2013
Owen Franks and the Crusaders have prepared well for Western Force © Getty Images

The Crusaders need to raise their game and lift the bar, coach Todd Blackadder said ahead of their game against Western Force in Perth on Saturday. The Crusaders have tripped up in Perth before, but Blackadder says the team this time around has enjoyed more time in the city to prepare, and that preparation has fitted what he believes will be a tough game.

The match will be tougher for the Crusaders without fly-half Dan Carter, who had been going to rejoin the side after missing the South African leg on paternity leave, but a hamstring twinge in the last play of a training session earlier in the week forced him out. Blackadder has also decided to give flanker Matt Todd and lock Sam Whitelock a break, as both were suffering the cumulative effect of the past five games."Their stats and workload have been unbelievable, but we have faith in the guys replacing them," Blackadder said.

Blackadder, meanwhile, said the injury to Israel Dagg had been more serious than earlier understood but the fullback was back and wanting "to have a go".

"The back three want to really open up this week," Blackadder said. "We want to get him [Dagg] out there and give him some confidence."

Blackadder said the build-up for the game had been interesting when compared with the earlier tour matches: the preparation for the Stormers game was obvious for the first game of a tour against a redoubtable opponent, while the Crusaders faced a short turnaround ahead of the Sharks game and the side hadn't done a lot. But this week has been longer than usual, and the players are fresh and were well and truly focused, he said.

"We can't afford more slip-ups," Blackadder said. "The Force won't lie down against the Crusaders. They have done well against us in the past. But we've never had a week to prepare before."

Blackadder said the Crusaders were also motivated to rid themselves of the disciplinary issues that had given away avoidable penalties, and there was disappointment with the performance in the Sharks game as they had kicked away too much ball and didn't maintain pressure. "Discipline is a general theme we haven't quite been about to master this year," he said. "And the teams are so close now [in standard] that penalties have more effect now."

He also said that some of the penalties awarded against the Crusaders had left the players scratching their heads, but "it's a grey area ... we have to take it on the chin".

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