Despite a first-up loss, Crusaders Super Rugby coach Todd Blackadder is calling for more of the same from his players when they host the Blues on Friday.
Blackadder didn’t see much wrong from his new-look team in their 27-21 loss to the Chiefs last week and has responded by fielding the same starting XV.
He is also asking them to stick with the same playing blueprint.
“We actually felt really pleased with the team’s performance,” Blackadder said.
“The physicality and intent they showed for most of the game was fantastic, and we felt that we were dominant in many respects for a good portion of that game.
“That is what makes the loss even more frustrating for the players though.”
That frustration will be compounded by an inability to win their first-round game, which has plagued them since 2012.
Notoriously slow starters in recent seasons, they hope to stop any rot setting in against a Blues side who haven’t won in Christchurch for 12 years.
Assistant coach Dave Hewett sensed the northerners aren’t the erratic outfit of recent years, with new coach Tana Umaga guiding them to a 33-31 home win over the Highlanders first up.
That performance built on a series of impressive pre-season results.
“Not only do the Blues have firepower but they have the structure to back that firepower up so teams have to be really careful,” Hewett said.
“Those guys, given half a break or half a chance, can create all sorts of havoc as they have done in the past. But what they are doing now is manufacturing those situations.”
While the Blues have made six starting switches, Hewett supported Blackadder’s no-change approach.
He was particularly impressed by a backline comprising Super Rugby rookies such as five-eighth Richie Mo’unga, centre Sean Wainui and winger Jone Macilai.
“The area we need to improve on is just a little bit of the execution when we have got them under pressure.”