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Penney backs Crusaders to turn season around

Penney backs Crusaders to turn season around

All BlacksMarch 25, 2024

Surveying the wreckage after a 6-26 loss to the Blues in DHL Super Rugby Pacific at the weekend, the worst starting record by any side, Crusaders coach Rob Penney said a recovery is not getting any easier.

The Crusaders host the Chiefs on Friday, and despite the six-day turnaround, he is looking to his side to stay well-connected.

"They are proud men, and we've got some talent who will come back to us after the bye [which follows Friday's game]. They'll be drip-fed in over the next six weeks.

He said avoiding falling into an uncontrollable spiral would require players to keep looking in the mirror and not out the window.

Second five-eighths David Havili is the latest addition to the injured list and will likely be out for several weeks.

Penney took positives from the performance and the courage demonstrated in defence on their line. But it was down the field, where 44 missed tackles were missed, that they were hurt.

"You can't apply pressure if you're losing eight or nine lineouts. We had a couple of nice scrum options and we couldn't even get the first phase. There're issues on both sides of the ball."

Penney said, "We were competitive up until halftime. Losing our halfback, which creates massive disruption in your defensive line, is so important to your defence nowadays, and in that 10-minute period, 14 points. And then our lineouts disintegrated on the back of it.

Kids Round passed with flying colours 🎉

Which match was your favourite?#SuperRugbyPacific pic.twitter.com/j9G3Qz1owl

— Super Rugby Pacific (@SuperRugby) March 23, 2024

"So, you can't expect to apply any pressure when your lineout doesn't function."

Keeping the team on track despite their losing run would be a challenge.

"It's getting to a point where that will start to affect all sorts of dynamics within a team when you have the results that we've been happening.

"It's just a collective responsibility of ensuring we don't fall into a big hole, and we keep looking for a little bit of light at the end of the tunnel and we grasp it, and keep fighting."

With experienced lock Quinten Strange forced out due to a Thursday training incident in which he suffered a hyper-extended neck, they had inexperienced locks exposed.

"We've got to be better at educating, developing, and bringing them on.

"The Blues were able to put some really good pressure on us, particularly in the early stages of the second half.

"We thought we had some lineouts to go to that were going to be pretty safe, and they got up in front of us or applied pressure, and we threw them a bit wonky.

"So, there's a number of reasons, and we've got to be better, and be better educators."

Here is how things shake out after Kids Round!

Where is your team sitting on the #SuperRugbyPacific ladder? 🪜 pic.twitter.com/dB4x4WFgGC

— Super Rugby Pacific (@SuperRugby) March 23, 2024

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