NZ Rugby World
CRUSADERS HAVE CHAMPION ETHOS
In the end it was no surprise that the Crusaders won. They are the masters at pressure rugby – brilliant at finding a way to somehow hang on through difficult periods in big games and then land a few killer blows to win.
That was the story of their campaign and best epitomised by their home victories against the Blues and Highanders.
They were on the ropes against the Blues, in serious danger of seeing the game slip away in the final quarter after Rieko Ioane barged over to make the scored 15-9 to the visitors with 25 minutes remaining.
But five minutes later the game was safe. Richie Mo'unga inspired a comeback when he collected his own short kick-off and suddenly the Cruaders had shifted gear in the final quarter to ease out to a 26-15 victory.
It was much the same against the Highlanders in the penultimate round. The visitors were brilliant for 65 minutes and had the game where they wanted it. They were nne points ahead and then boom, boom, boom, the Crusaders struck with three brilliant tries to make it seem like the game had never been that close.
That was their trump card – that ability to lift the speed, accuracy and intensity of their football in the final quarter.