Marshall runs a mile for Crusaders' cause
By Scrum's Tim Brimblecombe
March 18, 2000
Canterbury halfback Justin Marshall can't remember the last time he ran 70m flat out, but you can bet he won't forget his latest effort for quite some time.
Marshall intercepted an inside-ball from Queensland five-eighth Shane Drahm inside the Crusaders 22 and sprinted the remainder of the field to score under the posts and spark a Canterbury fightback and eventual 27-19 victory in the Super 12 clash at Ballymore.
Queensland were on the attack 10 minutes into the second half with a 16-3 lead when Marshall grasped Drahm's pass and managed to hold off Wallaby speedster Ben Tune in the dash for the opposite tryline. And it seems it was no fluke either.
"Queensland are very good at holding and maintaining possession," Marshall said. "They use their forwards around first five and second five a lot and punch it up with inside and outside balls and use players like Toutai Kefu who are very hard to stop out there. We thought they might continue with it.
"I wasn't looking around, but I could feel him (Tune) breathing down my neck ... it was a long way for sure. I suppose it was quiet timely at that stage in the game when Queensland was on the attack. It was a lucky thing, if I had missed then things could have been different and they might have scored. But it turned the game for us and we managed to get on top after that.
Despite a 16-3 scoreline at half-time, Marshall said it was an optimistic changing room.
"It wasn't sombre, but we were disappointed. Queensland were brilliant. We felt all we did was defend and when we got the ball we turned it over. Guys like Chris Latham pinned us back in our half and we seemed to be running about doing nothing. Basically we just said to ourselves to go out and try and get our hands on the ball in attack and fortunately it worked for us."
Canterbury coach Robbie Deans, who was proud of the way the reigning premiers responded to the challenge at half-time, expressed similar sentiments.
"The key thing was to get our hands on the ball," Deans said. "Queensland played very well in the first 60 minutes and denied us the ball and put us under a massive amount of physical pressure.
"But I was very proud with the way our guys defended and they showed real character and when the tide turned they really lifted themselves and took the opportunities. I was confident if we could get our hands on the ball we could change the nature of the contest.
"When we didn't have the ball we had to work very hard. Queensland expended a lot of energy in the first half and although they scored 16 points, and could have scored more, possibly in the long run it told."
Deans hinted, however, there was still plenty of room for improvement despite the Crusaders' perfect start to the season.
"The scrums seemed to be a bit messy. I'd like to look at it on tape, I don't know what our difficulty was there. The lineout was not that efficient either, but it was still good to get through."