McCaw out to win it for Christchurch
July 2, 2011
The Crusaders' Sean Maitland grabbed an intercept score at Newlands © Getty Images
Crusaders captain Richie McCaw set his sights on another Super Rugby title after steering his side to a 29-10 victory over the Stormers in their semi-final clash at Newlands.
McCaw, making his comeback from a lengthy lay-off due to a foot injury, was at the heart of a dominant Crusaders' performance that swept their South African rivals aside and set up a Super Rugby Final showdown with the Reds in Brisbane next weekend. The Crusaders' 10th final appearance in the last 14 seasons is all the more incredible due to the fact they have been on the road all year after their AMI Stadium home was damaged in the Christchurch earthquake back in February.
"You get a choice, don't you?" said McCaw. "You either use the adversity as an excuse. We made a decision with all the carnage that happened at home that we wanted to stand up for the people at home. We've given ourselves a chance now with a shot at the final.
"I'm really proud of the guys who haven't used travel as an excuse the whole season," he added.
His sentiments were echoed by Crusaders coach Todd Blackadder who commented: "We'll look forward to next week. We're great at travelling anyway. We're a beacon of hope for our community. It means absolutely everything to people back home."
Reflecting on his side's impressive showing that saw them become the first side to win a finals match away from home since they themselves pipped the Brumbies to the Super Rugby crown in Canberra in 2000, McCaw said, "The whole tight five set the tone in defence and they didn't give the Stormers front foot ball."
Stormers centre Jean de Villiers, who took on the captaincy following an injury to flanker Schalk Brits, rued his side's failure to rise to the occasion. "We were outclassed by a better team in all facets of play and you can't win a rugby game like that," said De Villiers.
"You have to take your opportunities in games like this and we didn't capitalise on some early chances. The intercept try turned the game in their favour and they just got stronger and stronger," he added. "I don't think we pitched up today."
Stormers coach Allister Coetzee was equally downcast after his side failed to make it back-to-back final appearances. "We'll sit and do a bit of soul-searching," he said.
"They were outstanding. Our own tactics were naive and as a coaching staff and group we take [responsibility]. We played too much rugby in our own half again and that wasn't the plan.
"They exploited it well and points came from turnovers they capitalised on. It was another learning experience for us - I know it's difficult to digest but you do learn from big games like this one. We look forward to next season."
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
The reopening of the openside debate, a dominant wolf-pack and a sublime performance in defeat - Monday Maul looks at the weekend's talking points
The latest Week in Pictures takes in the Rugby Championship alongside the best photographs from around the domestic game
Amy Perrett, the Australian referee who whistled the Women's Rugby World Cup final after handling only six Tests, talks to Jamie Lyall
John Griffiths digs into the distant past to try to establish the identity of an England international whose life is a virtual mystery