Bridesmaid tag starts to rankle Crusaders
Sat, 28 Jul 2012 2:04p.m.
By Daniel Gilhooly
A fourth successive Super Rugby semi-final for the Crusaders. A fourth successive title-less campaign.
What's going on with the competition's glamour outfit?
Friday night's 20-17 elimination at the hands of the Chiefs marks another playoffs slip-up for a side once regarded as the masters of knockout rugby.
Seven titles is testament to that but since their 2008 crown - the last season under long-serving coach Robbie Deans - Todd Blackadder's team have failed to push on to the silverware.
All Blacks and Crusaders skipper Richie McCaw isn't impressed about the recent trend.
"You don't come just to make up the numbers at playoff time," he said.
"I think that's always been the attitude because of what the team's done before.
"When you get to finals footy, you're there to perform then and there."
For most other teams, reaching the post-season would be regarded as a success. That's not the attitude of a Crusaders side who have done so for 14 of the last 15 seasons.
They were at full strength in Hamilton aside from the absence of injured No.8 Kieran Read.
"The feeling that the boys have got is that we all just didn't quite nail it," McCaw said.
"We weren't allowed to (by the Chiefs) admittedly, but it hurts."
Blackadder rued a drop in standards from his All Blacks-laden side after finding momentum late in the season, including a thrashing of the Bulls in the playoffs qualifying match last week.
"It hurts when you lose and your team doesn't perform as well as you prepared them to play," Blackadder said.
"That's sport and life, you've got to accept it. The Chiefs certainly deserved their victory."
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