Monday, May 24, 2010


This one hurt more for Richie McCaw.
Crusaders captain McCaw said last year's 36-23 semifinal defeat to the Bulls in Pretoria was painful, but yesterday morning's defeat at Orlando Stadium was much tougher to stomach.
"Last year we were happy to have snuck in and that was our attitude. But this year, genuinely, we considered we had a chance to win the thing," he said following the 39-24 defeat.
"We thought the Bulls were beatable but you can't afford to make mistakes and they were a good enough team to punish us for it."
Errors cost the Crusaders dearly and McCaw was annoyed that they had put themselves in the position of having to play their semi away from home.
Three defeats on their trip to Perth, Cape Town and Pretoria meant they qualified fourth.
"Those three losses on the trot certainly put us under pressure and that's the way it goes. We made mistakes that you can't afford to make, there were a couple of up and unders that we just needed to take, little things like that."
McCaw was not using the young faces in the squad as an excuse. Among those still in their early 20s are Sam Whitelock, Robbie Fruean, Zac Guildford and Sean Maitland.
"It would be easy to blame that, a lot of them have played a bit of footy too and we have been talking all year about being harder on ourselves not to make mistakes.
"That is about being men in this competition, the good teams at the end don't make those mistakes."
McCaw admitted this year's team lacked the ability of previous Crusaders sides to choke other teams when they were down.
Instead, they allowed the Bulls to dominate as the Crusaders repeatedly dropped high balls, turnovers and late in the match the scrum was pinged by referee Stu Dickinson.
"When you get an opportunity you have got to finish and that's what really hurts teams; that's what the Bulls did tonight. Perhaps they didn't outplay us but when they got their chance, bang, we were 10 points down.
"That's the difference between teams that are ruthless, and that's perhaps what we lacked this year – just that ruthless edge."

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