March 10, 2008
The Crusaders were not at their best during yesterday’s 29-24 win over the Western Force in Perth, but skipper Richard McCaw is adamant that his side would not have prevailed had they not continued to believe.
Even when trailing 12-24, 10 minutes into the second half, McCaw says the Crusaders didn’t lose their faith.
“It was about keeping our composure, and doing the right things,” McCaw said.“We’d made quite a few mistakes, and rushed things a fair bit, but we always knew we were in the game, and quite capable of winning it if we got our act together.”
The Crusaders did that, setting the Force back on its heels with two tries in as many minutes, which transformed the game, tying the scores at 24-24.
“I’m proud of the guys for the way they hung in there,” McCaw says.“Games like this are a great test of a team’s character, in terms of whether it stays together or falls away when things get tough. We hung together, and got the result because of that.”
Both McCaw and Crusaders coach Robbie Deans acknowledged that their side endured its flat patches after traveling back across the Indian Ocean from South Africa.
“It’s not an excuse, but we certainly weren’t as accurate as we’d like to have been, and I suppose you could suggest that the travel played a part in that,” McCaw said.“Away wins are especially important in this competition – I still reckon some people just don’t quite appreciate how tough it is to win on the road – so we’re leaving Perth pretty happy!”
The win may have come at a cost, with the in-form No 8 Mose Tuiali’i being forced from the field shortly before the finish due to an ankle complaint.
Tuiali’i had enjoyed another imposing afternoon, but now might be in a race against the clock in order to be fit to face the Cheetahs at AMI Stadium on Saturday night.
Meanwhile Scott Hamilton had a good reason to smile after the final whistle. The game was the Glenmark winger’s 50th for the Crusaders.