Super Rugby
Crusaders must show loss was 'anomaly'
ESPN Staff
May 18, 2014
The Crusaders were shell-shocked by their loss to the Sharks © Getty Images

The Crusaders paid the price for their inability to change the tactics that had delivered them an impressive five-match winning run when they lost for the first time at home to the Sharks on Saturday, Steve Hansen said.

Crusaders 25-30 Sharks (Australia only)

The Crusaders were unbeaten in 50 matches at home against South African and Australian opposition, went into the game at AMI Stadium firm favourites after winning their previous five games while the ladder-leading Sharks had lost two of their previous three. The odds favoured the hosts even more firmly when Sharks flanker Jean Deysel was sent off in the 16th minute for stomping on Jordan Taufua, and again when Willem Alberts was yellow-carded late in the game. But they failed to stretch the Sharks, who defended easily against the narrow attack and pulled off a famous victory.

''They didn't adapt and adjust to only playing against 13 men," the All Blacks coach said as he critiqued the Crusaders' preformance. "Clearly their strategy was to put the ball in behind the Sharks, and take advantage of that. 'Circumstances changed the way they should have played and that was something [the All Blacks] as a team have to be really good at. There's good lessons there for all the sides.''

Crusaders coach Todd Blackadder was left fuming by the manner of defeat, and he is now without 10 players on All Blacks duty until Wednesday as he works towards the match on Saturday against the Highlanders, who now sit two points above his side on the Super Rugby ladder.

''You have to be mentally up for every game in this competition and we clearly weren't,'' Blackadder said.

''What they really need to highlight was that it was just a one-off performance because they had been playing really good football,'' Blackadder said. ''This needs to be an anomaly. That's our challenge for next week, to show that it was.''

The Crusaders had adapted their game plan during their winning run, kicking the ball far more often than during their opening five fixtures, but the undermanned Sharks countered by kicking it back and scrambling well in defence.

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd

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