Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Crusaders on song as new coach begins

Monday, 16 February 2009

Robbie Deans has gone, and if things go well, will soon be forgotten.

Halfback Andy Ellis reckoned it was business as usual for the Crusaders this season, despite no longer having Deans, the most successful coach in the history of the Super competition, on board.
With Deans now guiding the Wallabies, Ellis said new coach Todd Blackadder had made a seamless transition into the top job.

"It doesn't really feel like Deans has gone. Toddy has just slid in and it's all about the team again. But it's nice for them [the new coaches] that we got off to a good start. Hopefully it continues on like that."

Ellis did not lack for incentive to perform in Saturday night's 19-13 win over the Chiefs, with Brendon Leonard back from injury and preparing to win back the All Blacks' spot from the other contenders Ellis, Jimmy Cowan and Piri Weepu.

Leonard's running game impressed as he made several telling snipes around the ruck, while Ellis was the busiest of the Crusaders backs in defence and, with the assistance of Colin Slade, did well to prevent his opponent from scoring from a quick tap in the second spell.

"I suppose seeing that it was Brendon I didn't want him to score a try as well and I put a bit of extra effort in."

Handling errors could have cost the Crusaders their victory, the home side making a massive 43 fumbles to the Chiefs' 25. At times there was almost a jamboree feel to the game as passes shot high, wide and forward of their receivers and cost the Crusaders vital opportunities.

"There is just a bit of rustiness," Ellis said. "In pre-season games we have been throwing the ball around ... If we had put three or four phases together we could have scored some more tries instead of trying to score off second phase."

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