The Crusaders 2019 campaign suffered its first loss after the went down to the Waratahs 20-12. It would be easy to blame outside events, but this loss has plenty to do with the relentless kicking pressure the Waratahs applied. These kicks would leave the Crusaders stunned and lead to uncharacteristic errors.

The truth is, this loss wasn’t as dour as it seemed. There was a phenomenal lineout try, and one player that was so good that he could single-handedly get the Crusaders back on track next round.

Let’s find out what happened.

UnCrusaderlike Errors | Crusaders 2019

The Crusaders are renowned for their high standards, yet this game was fraught with mistakes. The Waratahs defence-first approach kept the heat cranked up for the entire 80 minutes.

Below Mitch Hunt allows himself to be caught in a choke tackle in a very poor position.

The Waratahs hold Hunt up
The Waratahs hold Hunt up

This mistake is understandable given the high pressure the Waratahs were applying, but being hammered in a defensive scrum is very uncharacteristic of the Crusaders. Here the Waratahs screw the scrum and Hooper isn’t letting them off the hook.

The Crusaders defensive scrum is punished
The Crusaders defensive scrum is punished

The Waratahs generally kept the ball in play during this game, aware that the Crusaders lineout is extremely dangerous. The Crusaders needed to make every lineout count but in the example below, they flat out lose one.

The Crusaders lose a precious lineout
The Crusaders lose a precious lineout

They also failed to slow the ball down to the extent they usually would. Here the Waratahs force them to fold around the ruck, and the Crusaders defenders only just fill their spaces in time. It’s not enough.

Holloway scores
Holloway scores

The Crusaders needed to strike back after the above try, and they would use what is becoming a classic move in Super Rugby this season.

The Defender-Drag Move is Back | Crusaders 2019

This move has become popular across the board in Super Rugby. There are many variants of the defender-drag that deserve an explanation, and you can check out which teams are trying it in the below article.

The Surprising Weakness Super Rugby Teams Are Targeting In 2019

The common theme is that it’s a very hard move to pull off. below Matt Todd tries to drag the first defender wide after a lineout, before slipping an inside ball to Taylor.

The Crusaders try to exploit this space early on
The Crusaders try to exploit this space early on

In this case, the Waratahs defend very well to stop Taylor in his tracks. The Crusaders came close though and would try it again.

This time the move is done with a bit more pace, and electric winger George Bridge is the strike weapon.

The Crusaders drag the first defender wide and set up an inside line
The Crusaders drag the first defender wide and set up an inside line

This time the pieces of the puzzle are perfectly placed. Bridge goes in to score, and the Crusaders keep themselves in the match at a critical time.

Bridge is a great strike weapon
Bridge is a great strike weapon

Aside from this try, the Crusaders weren’t playing with their usual ruthlessness. One player would stand up and bring that ruthlessness back.

The Power of Ryan Crotty | Crusaders 2019

All Blacks and Crusaders no.12 Ryan Crotty is in a league all of his own. Without him, this loss could have been far heavier for the Crusaders. Let’s find out why.

In this clip Crotty shoots out of the line to stop the Waratahs completely with a brilliant tackle. With the scoreboard getting worse, Crotty was determined to keep the Crusaders in the game.

Crotty puts his body on the line
Crotty puts his body on the line

Just a few minutes later Crotty is called on to save his side from further damage. He shows incredible pace to make the covering tackle and is then impressively straight back to his feet. This is the play of an All Black.

Crotty makes an impressive cover tackle
Crotty makes an impressive cover tackle

This final skill could benefit the All Blacks at the World Cup. More and more we are seeing kicks from no.12 instead of no.10. This is because wingers usually move up to defend when the no.10 passes, expecting the ball to go wide.

Crotty is becoming one of the best in the world at making these kicks, as is evident below.

Crotty has been kicking from no.12 more and more
Crotty has been kicking from no.12 more and more

Were the positives of this Crusaders performance enough to convince you they can bounce back against the Hurricanes? let us know your thoughts.

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