Crusaders almost certain to miss play offs

Crusaders captain Kieran Read has praised the Waratahs for the way that they shut down the Christchurch side’s game in Sydney as the side come to terms with them most likely missing the play offs.

The Crusaders suffered their seventh loss of the 2015 season and face the reality that for the first time since 2001 they will miss the play offs as with three rounds left they are seven points behind the last qualifier.

The Crusaders are Super Rugby’s most successful team with seven titles behind them but it is coming up to a decade since they last won a title.

The Christchurch side have been in the play offs every year since 2001 and although they usually start the season slowly they pick up momentum as the season progresses.

This year the Crusaders were beaten at home by the Rebels in their opening match and have stuttered through the season and it looks to be too late for the Crusaders.

They All Black filled Crusaders have matches ahead against the tournament leading Hurricanes, the Blues and the Brumbies.

The Crusaders have already beaten the Blues 29-15 in Christchurch but they were beaten 29-23 by the Hurricanes in Wellington and they will face the Brumbies away in Canberra.

Next week the Crusaders home ground advantage has been diluted a little as they have to play the Hurricanes in Nelson as their Christchurch home is hosting a football event.

This week before the rematch of last year’s final in Sydney the Crusaders suffered a blow as they lost Israel Dagg in the warm ups and had to contest the match with 22 players instead of 23.

The Crusaders did however look to have brushed aside the loss of Dagg at the start of the match as they were the first to score when Nemani Nadolo scored in the corner but the Sydney side stuck to their game and the Crusaders found that they were playing catch up.

The Waratahs went off the boil halfway through the second half and a penalty and converted try got the Crusaders to within two points before captain Richie McCaw was yellow carded for side entry and Crusaders had to spend the last 10 minutes of the match with a man down.

“In some ways it felt like last year’s game (final), it felt like we were in the game and we just needed to kick on at the end when we had a chance,” Crusaders skipper Kieran Read said after the match.

“We wanted to stretch them across the park and they defended really well and put pressure on our skills and they were able to shut down our attacks” added Read.

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