Sunday Star Times
Sunday, 22 February 2009
Sunday, 22 February 2009
Crusaders captain Kieran Read says the Crusaders can take plenty of heart out of their agonising last- minute loss to the Brumbies in Canberra on Saturday night.
Opposing captain Stirling Mortlock's tricky conversion of Mark Gerrard's last-minute try stole the game from them.
"It's pretty tough to face a result like that," Read lamented after Crusaders had succumbed to relentless pressure on their line over the final minutes."It was unfortunate that we let in that last try and then the kick went over . . .I felt we were on defence for a lot of the time. We couldn't quite hold onto the ball, which was our downfall. We weren't building enough pressure. We done well to get 16 points but we probably needed a few more."
The Crusaders went into the match without Richie McCaw, Brad Thorn and Leon MacDonald, and were hit by injuries to other stalwarts - Andy Ellis and Corey Flynn - during the game.
But the players called up to fill in for the stars still played with plenty of passion.
"We know that everyone that steps into a Crusaders jersey is going to give 100% and do us proud," Read said. "We showed it today that we don't need those guys to do well.
"We stuck at our task. The defence was great, you can't really fault that, we really got up on our line speed and shut them down which was awesome for us."
Brumbies captain Stephen Hoiles praised his side's forward effort after they pounded the Crusaders' line for the final 10 minutes.
"We showed a lot of character," the No 8 said."There is plenty to work on but attitude and character are big ingredients for a win and we showed that. The most pleasing thing was that the forwards really controlled the game at the end there. Our set piece was great and I'd have to pay a whole heap of credit to our forward pack, they were outstanding."
Colin Slade got the Crusaders on the scoreboard first through a penalty in the sixth minute after Kiwi referee Bryce Lawrence adjudged the Brumbies to have collapsed a scrum on their own 5m line, even though they had the put-in.
Ten minutes later Gerrard squared the ledger with a penalty from just outside the Crusaders' 22. Straight after, Crusaders centre Casey Laulala, who has had a sensational start to the season, pounced on a blind pass from Brumbies openside George Smith to run 40 metres for a try.
Four minutes before the break, the Crusaders' defence, which had looked so solid up to that point, was caught out badly with Read and Ross Filipo leaving a big gap for Smith to run through, with the flanker offloading to Christian Lealiifano to score.
Stephen Brett landed a penalty in the 39th minute to make it 11-8 at the break.
Fifteen minutes into the second half Mortlock squared the match with a huge penalty on the Crusaders' 10m line.
But again, the Crusaders bounced straight back with Filipo capitalising on a Colin Slade charge- down.
The Brumbies' attack was relentless late in the game, spending nearly all the last 10 minutes around the Crusaders 5m line and it was almost a relief when Gerrard held off two tacklers to cross the line and Mortlock landed the tough conversion to grab victory.
It was the Crusaders' first loss under the leadership of debutant coach Todd Blackadder.
Brumbies 18: Christian Lealiifano, Mark Gerrard tries; Mark Gerrard pen; Stirling Mortlock pen, con.
Crusaders 16: Casey Laulala, Ross Filipo tries; Colin Slade pen; Stephen Brett pen.