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Thread: Western Force has the chance to inflict further pain on Crusaders

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    Western Force has the chance to inflict further pain on Crusaders



    Wayne Smith | March 13, 2009


    Article from: The Australian

    THE mathematical concept of zero might have been around for just over a thousand years but it is safe to say both the Crusaders and the Western Force players are struggling to get their heads around it.

    The Force players at least have had two years to mull it over, today returning to the AMI Stadium in Christchurch where they were held to zero for the only time in their history by the Crusaders in 2007.

    The 53-0 thrashing they endured that April day was notable not only for their lowest score ever but because it also set the record, that stood for all of one week until the Chiefs put 64 on them in the very next match - for the most points they ever conceded.

    But it is safe to say the Crusaders are even more confounded by the idea of playing rugby for 80 minutes for zero return. Until they ventured down to Carisbrook to take on the Highlanders last weekend, the heavy hitters of Super rugby had got off the mark in every one of their 171 matches.

    Then, suddenly, a duck, the most unexpected zero since "that" one at The Oval in 1948, the one that forever stranded The Don on 99.94.

    Tough as the Crusaders have been doing it this season without Robbie Deans and Dan Carter, it still is inconceivable that they could restrict the Highlanders to two Daniel Bowden penalty goals and yet still lose by six points.

    Having scarcely absorbed that indignity, the Crusaders now find themselves confronting another. One that, if anything, would be even more painful.

    They have never in their proud and unmatched Super rugby history lost four matches in succession but that is what awaits them at AMI Stadium tonight if they prove no match for the Force.

    Some measure of how well last weekend's catastrophe played out in Christchurch can be gleaned from the fact that coach Todd Blackadder has retained not a single member of the Crusaders backline used against the Highlanders in the same jersey, introducing three new faces and generally reshuffling his entire back division.
    It may be, as another Blackadder might have put it, that the Crusaders' coach has a plan "so cunning you can brush your teeth with it".

    Or, conversely, he might simply have come to his senses and reinstated Stephen Brett and Leon MacDonald in the two positions where they can do most good, five-eighth and fullback.

    Certainly the desperation levels will be high in both camps, with the Force also coming off a last-start defeat, a bumbling shambles against the Chiefs in which it missed 14 tackles and conceded three soft tries in the first half alone.

    While Force openside flanker David Pocock no doubt is frustrated that injury to Richie McCaw has cost him the chance to go head-to-head with the best ball-scavenger in the game, the absence of the All Black captain is a huge boost to the Perth side.

    Now, in a match in which inspiration might be in short supply, the Force might well fall back on a slightly tweaked version of that old jingoistic line British soldiers used to recite about the Gatling gun: "Whatever happens, we have got Matt Giteau and they have not".

    Giteau, his game sharpened by a session in Queenstown under his long-time kicking coach Ben Perkins, is by far the most potent attacking weapon in the arsenal of either side. If the Force is able to get on the front foot in the forward exchanges, and it has brought in David Pusey and Richard Stanford precisely to give it more muscle for that battle, Giteau should prove the difference.


    http://www.theaustralian.news.com.au...015656,00.html

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    "THE mathematical concept of zero might have been around for just over a thousand years but it is safe to say..."

    FFS Wayne, it's RUGBY!!!
    Must be trying to get into the Sunday Magazine writers gig or something

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    The concept of scoring zero points but still gaining one very precious bonus point,makes no sense at all to me.

    And I'm sure that bam bam or any other openside is not in a hurry to send Richie a get well card....... frustrated is probably not the best word to describe bam bams reaction to mccaws injury.However I thought Whitelock played pretty well against the brumbies.With Keiran Read and Thomas Waldrom,there will be still plenty of work for our boys to do tonight.

    Gits will really need to step up tonite,Brett is a good player and is finally back where he should be.

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    i hope they do win!!!

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    BOKKE
    “Let me put it this way, A Springbok team contains Afrikaners, Englishmen, coloureds and blacks. It has parochial foes in Bulls, Sharks, Stormers, Cheetahs and Lions. It is a recipe for war! Yet in all the years of John Smit’s captaincy, there has never been one unhappy customer, not one voice of rebellion against his leadership. He is the glue that holds the Springboks together. The man is a legend!”- Jake White

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    the force that is

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    BOKKE
    “Let me put it this way, A Springbok team contains Afrikaners, Englishmen, coloureds and blacks. It has parochial foes in Bulls, Sharks, Stormers, Cheetahs and Lions. It is a recipe for war! Yet in all the years of John Smit’s captaincy, there has never been one unhappy customer, not one voice of rebellion against his leadership. He is the glue that holds the Springboks together. The man is a legend!”- Jake White

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    Quote Originally Posted by Cookie View Post
    The concept of scoring zero points but still gaining one very precious bonus point,makes no sense at all to me.
    I guess in that situation, it's rewarding your defence

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    C'mon the

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    Coaches Rivalry Revived
    When Todd Blackadder and John Mitchell first clashed on the playing field, one of their opening exchanges would have had the PC brigade whimpering.

    As Canterbury and Waikato lined up for a lineout in the 1992 season, Mitchell welcomed the young Blackadder to the big time by walloping him on the side of the head.

    Later, in his book Loyal, Blackadder recalled Mitchell's greeting at the time as being: "'Welcome to the first division, son', or something like that. He didn't stop me, and I didn't do a thing. I just said 'thanks, pal'. It was, I suppose, a way of earning respect."

    Tonight the pair will clash in a different capacity when they pit their wits against each other from the Super 14 coaches' boxes at AMI Stadium and again the newcomer Blackadder will be out to prove himself and earn some respect against Mitchell.

    Both sides require wins to keep their title aspirations from rotting away, but the Crusaders, who will be feverish to end their three-match losing streak, have more to lose. Defeat tonight will leave the injury-ravaged defending champion on very thin ice.

    As a player, Blackadder knew all about having to fight against the odds, especially during the early years of his professional career with the Crusaders.

    In the first season of the Super 12 in 1996, the team won just two of their 11 matches and finished last, but within two years had lifted the title from the Blues and went on to build a dynasty that has been so intimidating that teams in recent seasons have meekly surrendered before the halftime bell has sounded.

    Those who know Blackadder well have said he never shirked his responsibilities as a player and rarely left any petrol sloshing in his tanks when the fulltime whistle blew.

    This week he harked back to those days when the Crusaders were the outfit everyone wanted to play, before learning they had to respect, and then fear, them.

    Blackadder maintained his side were not far away from putting together a match-winning performance, noting they had been the creators of their own demise in the losses to the Highlanders, Hurricanes and Brumbies.

    "If anything, we can take some confidence out of that. The confidence is that we can get better ... Crusaders teams, this is how those teams were formed. They have come through these things in these tough times and they have grown from them and they are certainly not running away from them."

    The problem for Blackadder and his coaching sidekicks Mark Hammett and Daryl Gibson is that heart and commitment can only take the team so far and the growing injury list, along with the absence of Dan Carter, has gouged many of the vital cogs out of the machine that many predicted in the pre-season would king-hit many of its opponents. Instead, it is the Crusaders who are copping the heavy flak.

    This week Ben Franks and Andy Ellis joined Richie McCaw, Corey Flynn, Casey Laulala, Sean Maitland, Jared Payne and Kade Poki on the injury list, but the good news is that Leon MacDonald returns to guide the young backline around from fullback.

    A reshuffled Crusaders backline will be unrecognisable to some casual observers, and that is where Mitchell will instruct his troops to probe for any sign of a soft underbelly.

    Recalled first five-eighth Stephen Brett will be required to settle the Crusaders' back division if it starts getting rattled, and the defensive screens cannot afford to give five-eighths Matt Giteau and James O'Connor or centre Ryan Cross any space.

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    Weather Forecast for Christchurch for the game

    Saturday
    Max: 18 °C Min: 9 °C
    (Day) (Overnight)
    Fine spells, cloud increasing later. Northeast breeze.

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    This week he harked back to those days when the Crusaders were the outfit everyone wanted to play, before learning they had to respect, and then fear, them.

    What, like twelve months ago

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    "Bloody oath we did!"

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