What are we talking about after the Reds' loss to the Crusaders?
1. Backline spark missing
It was discussed all week how big of a loss Samu Kerevi would be to the Reds and it showed tonight. The powerful centre may have made a difference in the first half when the Reds dominated possession but were unable to execute. They needed the big Fijian to break tackles, create space and offloads like he’s been doing all season. While young replacement Campbell Magnay was solid, they missed Kerevi’s X-factor.
2. No Nadolo, no worries
The Crusaders were missing their go-to man Nemani Nadolo (suspension) but that didn’t affect the home side. Nadolo is regularly used up close to and out wide to beat defenders and score tries, but in his absence Jone Macilai moved to the left wing with Johnny McNicholl slotting in on the right. Maciali had a double within the opening eight minutes and finished with a hat-trick. Not a bad return.
3. Execution an issue
The Reds had 75 per cent of possession in the opening 25 minutes and were somehow down 14-0. Spending five minutes in the Crusaders’ 22 and winning three penalties the Reds were still unable to hit the scoreboard. It’s something Matt O’Connor and Nick Stiles won’t be happy about!
4. Crusaders hoodoo continues
The Reds travelled to New Zealand having not defeated the Crusaders at home since 1999. That streak continues as they went down 38-5 in Christchurch. The Crusaders have now won 15 of their last 18 matches against the Reds, though Queensland still has that 2011 title.
5. Crusaders real title contenders
The New Zealand conference is really heating up with the Crusaders, Chiefs and Hurricanes in top form. However, it seems the Crusaders can do no wrong, extending their winning streak to eight with their win over the Reds. Amazingly the Crusaders have stamped themselves as one of the team’s to beat despite losing All Blacks legends Richie McCaw and Dan Carter in the off-season. They will be looking to farewell long-time coach Todd Blackadder with a title later this year.