-A Must see Miners Shot down -It paints a coherent picture of the build-up to the Marikana shooting from the miners’ point of view

METICULOUSLY constructed, Miners Shot Down gives us a narrative lacking from news coverage about striking miners in this country.

It paints a coherent picture of the build-up to the Marikana shooting from the miners’ point of view, giving up-to-now faceless strikers names and dignity.

That’s not to say other voices aren’t entertained, but police, government officials and Lonmin businessmen all fade into the background as they carefully decline interviews or obfuscate answers at the Farlam Commission of Inquiry.

Carefully unpacking the events in the week leading up to the August 2012 massacre, the footage is a mix of talking head interviews after the event, and on-the-ground coverage of mineworkers marching and police and security gathering beforehand. The narrative is structured chronologically, though the interviews do reflect what people also think about the event after the fact.

The documentary weaves together the points of view of three of the strike leaders and also draws on police footage, television archival material and some measured comment from the lawyers who represent the miners in the commission of inquiry.

Even Cyril Ramaphosa puts in an appearance, though he does not say much of anything. He gets a lot of screen time though, as the narrator carefully explains exactly how Ramaphosa is viewed by the miners and how he fits into the bigger picture.

Director Rehad Desai was originally covering the wildcat strike by Lonmin’s rock drill operators, intending to make a film about the inequality facing mining communities in the platinum belt. No one could have predicted that the miners would lose their cool with the National Union of Mineworkers or that the police would shoot the miners. But Desai was there to capture it all.

While a lot of the detail was immediately written about in newspapers or shown on tele-vision, the documentary contextualises the whole event in a way Twitter’s immediacy could never duplicate.

The audience is drawn into the miners’ story, but their account is also situated in the broader context, so the film operates on two levels at the same time – the individual story for empathy, the reality of life in the rainbow nation 20 years on for uncomfortable context.

Some of the footage obtained from the police and security cameras hasn’t been shown in public before and the way the documentary presents the story credibly challenges the self-defence argument put forward by the police.

When the more than 600 police are deployed, the question more often than not seems to be: do we have that many police officers in the country?

Philip Miller’s soundtrack deliberately goes for a haunting soundscape of non-verbal warbling, well designed to presage bad things happening. While the narrator (Desai) is measured and unhurried, the editing also introduces a sense of unease.

The film’s impact is powerful as Desai humanises the problem and creates an understanding for the plight of the miners.


English ”pricks to lose to” that was the sort of feeling they used to engender in the All Blacks.

OPINION: I once described the English as ”pricks to lose to” and at the time I hadn’t even lost a test to them. But that was the sort of feeling they used to engender in the All Blacks.

In my day England were the one team we hated to lose to, and it was a powerful motivator. It was also a big reason we had such a good record against them.

Though things are different now, I’m sure that mindset hasn’t changed too much as we prepare for a three-test series against a team we shouldn’t forget was the last to defeat the All Blacks.

When I came into the All Blacks in 1995 a lot of that feeling was generated from guys who had been in England in 1993 when we lost 15-9.

It was very clear they held a grudge about that defeat and it definitely fuelled us before the World Cup semifinal in Cape Town.

We didn’t hate their players – far from it – but it came down to how the guys felt treated after that loss in 1993.

There was definitely a feeling among the All Blacks who played that day that there had been an element of putting the colonials back in their place.

That came more from external forces around the team, than from within, but it didn’t alter the perception.

In New Zealand, rugby is the game for the people, whereas in the UK it’s very much a game for the ”elite”.

That runs against our New Zealand ethos. We see ourselves as egalitarian, and anything that smacks of class distinction we bridle at.

I’m sure there was also some misunderstanding. When we see that old brigade – the old farts, as Will Carling called them – straight away there’s a perception they view us as lower-class citizens.

Whether it was right or not, in the past there was this very intense feeling it was the masters having righted the balance against the colonials.

That never sat right with us because for the last 120-odd years rugby is one of the ways we’ve established our national identity.

Thankfully, England’s victories have been few and far between, pretty much once a decade if you consider they beat us in 1973, ’83, ’93 and 2003.

It’s hard not to think ‘bugger, you guys should feel it’s the exception, not the rule’.

Eventually experience taught me there were good guys in English rugby, as in all teams, and I’ve forged some very good friendships with men who once wore the red rose.

It’s a bit like the Auckland thing in New Zealand. You grow up in Canterbury detesting Auckland, but some of the best guys I’ve met in rugby are Aucklanders.

You always want to test yourself against the big boys, and in an international context, if you’re a New Zealander, that’s England.

But things are changing, and you only need look at the Polynesian influence in English rugby now to realise that. That’s about the fluidity of the world, and about rugby growing as a global sport.

I see the name Vunipola featuring in English rugby now and I don’t know if they’re from the stock of farming Vunipolas in Lancashire. Perceptions are funny things I guess.

In 1999 we turned up at the World Cup in this flash plane painted black, with players’ faces emblazoned on the side, and it was probably no wonder other nations reacted the way they did to us losing. They probably thought we were pretty arrogant.

I really enjoyed my two years in England with Harlequins. They’re good people – they’ve just got a lot more history, and a class element in society that’s been around for a long time.

There should be genuine respect for the English this tour. Their back play in recent years has gone to a new level and there’s genuine depth in their game too.

I’m also not sure they’ll be as weak for the first test as some suggest. A lot of established international players will still be here for Eden Park and that first group will have everything to play for which makes them dangerous.

Then for the second week, when the finalists come in from Northampton and Saracens, those players will have points to prove as well.

On the other hand, the All Blacks are building well. Over the last month a lot of our top players have lifted their levels. Locks and the back three look areas of strength and both centres are in great form.

There’s also a great opportunity now to give Beauden Barrett his first start at No 10. His goalkicking has been excellent, he picks his moments well and is playing with confidence and excitement.

He’s really challenging Aaron Cruden. Let’s remember too there’s another guy in the background who has just a little bit of potential. A guy called Carter.

by ANDREW MEHRTENS stuff.co.nz

Force is with the Crusaders

Sometimes you just have to be grateful for a win.

The Crusaders’ 30-7 victory over the Force at AMI Stadium tonight looks comprehensive enough on the scoreboard but in reality it was a game which degenerated as the minutes ticked by.

To take the glass half-full perspective would be to acknowledge the Crusaders, though inaccurate, now find themselves in second place on the Super Rugby log on 41 points behind the Sharks (44).

The late pressure they put on the Force is also reflected in the fact they scored two penalty tries – an unusual scenario in any match at any level.

All Blacks coach Steve Hansen would have also whistled a sigh of relief at seeing star No 8 Kieran Read complete the match without showing noticeable ill-effects from the head knock that had ruled him out of all rugby since April 19.

Fullback Israel Dagg suffered a painful blow to his shoulder in the 60th minute and Hansen will be hoping he is fit to face England at Eden Park next weekend.

Read, understandably for someone coming back from concussion, played within himself – but had the crowd bellowing with delight when he made a spectacular break which almost led to a try to Johnny McNicholl – and that reflected his side’s performance for much of the match.

The Crusaders’ desire to keep the Force pinned to the canvas was underlined by their refusal on several occasions to kick for goal.

But concentration lapses kept the door ajar and the Force were only too happy to force it open by mounting repeated attacks in the third spell – a far cry from some of the conservative work in other matches – and were rewarded with a try to right wing Dane Haylett-Petty.

A fine combination tackle by outside backs McNicholl and Dagg denied Nick Cummins minutes later yet it only seemed to galvanise the visitors who were encouraged by the Crusaders’ reluctance to commit defenders to rucks.

Turnovers, breakdown penalties and a series of tit-for-tat kicking duels added to the Crusaders getting bogged down in an arm wrestle.

Left wing Nemani Nadolo was dynamite with the ball early on but was rarely sighted in the second half, playmaker Colin Slade kicked superbly once again and blindside flanker Jordan Taufua was accurate in the lineout and with his ball carries.

In the opening half it seemed that the more the mercury sank the more the Crusaders attempted to apply the flame to the Force players’ bellies by keeping the ball alive with pop balls and wraparound passes in the tackle.

The joie de vivre in their game was a far cry from the turgid affair on the same ground a fortnight ago, when they got done 30-25 by the Sharks, but for all their vigour they only had one McNicholl try to show for their endeavour.

There were multiple reasons for this: for starters the Force were happy to keep conceding penalties at the breakdown and when referee Mike Fraser refused to make good his threat about yellow cards the boys from Perth just kept digging in the rucks.

Then there were the Crusaders errors, who possessed a small mountain of ball and all the territory in the first half, that repeatedly compromised their attack.

Right wing McNicholl latched on to a tremendous pass by fullback Dagg and should have had another if prop Tim Perry hadn’t taken out a Force player earlier in the movement.

Crusaders fans couldn’t sneer at TMO Vinny Munro’s call. Technically he was bang-on.

It should also be remembered Munro was the bloke who disallowed the late try by Highlanders flyer Patrick Osborne when the Crusaders escaped with a 32-30 victory in Dunedin last weekend.

Crusaders 30 (Johnny McNicholl try, 2 penalty tries; Colin Slade 3 cons, 3 pens) Force 7 (Dane Haylett-Petty try; Sias Ebershon con). HT: 16-0.

– Stuff

Twelve Boks who were involved with the Springboks last year, are already out of contention for the June series.

The Springbok training camp concluded in Durban yesterday and probably the busiest participants were the medical team that treated a slew of players battered and bruised from Super Rugby, and by the end of it, there was more bad news for lock Eben Etzebeth and confirmation that Francois Steyn has a chronic knee condition.

Etzebeth, who has not played since injuring his foot last November, is to undergo three more weeks of rehabilitation before he can be considered for selection while Steyn has been released to play for the Sharks this weekend against the Stormers but could then sit out the June Tests.

“Eben’s situation is a major setback as he’s been one of our best players in the last two seasons,” said coach Heyneke Meyer.

“We’re continually monitoring his injury, because he really wants to play for the Springboks next month. However, he is still young and has a highly promising career ahead and his welfare is most important to us.”

Etzebeth and Steyn were among the 10 players that did not train at the camp.

“We evaluated Eben’s injury at the camp and he did not take part in any of the field sessions, as we are managing the process of his return to the field,” said Springbok team doctor, Craig Roberts.

“We’ve been in discussion with his franchise, his rehab specialist and the foot specialist who operated on him last year. We’re happy with his progress and will work closely with Western Province to ensure he gets back on the field without any risk of further aggravating the injury.”

The other players who sat out, were Frans Malherbe (prop), Schalk Burger (loose forward), Willem Alberts (loose forward), S’bura Sithole (centre/wing), Juan de Jongh (centre), Johan Goosen (flyhalf), Bismarck du Plessis (hooker) and Duane Vermeulen (No 8).

Tighthead Malherbe, who made his debut for the Boks last November, has not overcome a concussion he sustained in a Super Rugby match a few weeks ago.

Burger suffered a knock to the neck playing for the Stormers against the Cheetahs and is still experiencing stiffness but could recover to play against the Sharks..

Alberts and Sithole both picked up grade one hamstring strains while playing for the Sharks against the Blues last weekend but are expected to play this weekend.

For most of the Super Rugby season, Steyn has been suffering from a chronic knee dysfunction which has been managed by the Sharks’ medical staff and upon a request from his franchise, the load on his knee was limited by keeping him out of training.

De Jongh was sidelined with flu, Goosen had some stiffness in his neck on Tuesday, while the workload of Du Plessis and Vermeulen were managed during the training camp.

“Player welfare is incredibly important to us,” said Meyer. “We’ve been working closely with the franchises and have taken the decision not to take any risks with players carrying injuries at this camp.

“Our medical team worked very hard at the camp, performing medical assessments on all the players and ensuring they get the best possible treatment on behalf of the franchises, as four of them are still playing Super Rugby this weekend.

“A final decision on the involvement of all the injured players will be taken later this week, before we announce the final squad for the Incoming Series on Saturday.”

Twelve players who were involved with the Springboks last year, are already out of contention for the June series. They are Springbok captain Jean de Villiers (knee), Scarra Ntubeni (foot), Chiliboy Ralepelle (knee), Frik Kirsten (neck), Pieter-Steph du Toit (knee), Franco van der Merwe (ankle), Arno Botha (knee), Pierre Spies (bicep), Louis Schreuder (hand), Pat Lambie (bicep), Gio Aplon (elbow) and Jaque Fourie (ankle).

by Mike Greenaway

New Zealand Rugby has today confirmed that Crusader Zac Guildford’s contract has been termi nated.

New Zealand Rugby General Manager Rugby Neil Sorensen said that following discussions with the Crusaders and with Guildford, the national union has agreed to terminate his contract effective immediately.

Guildford was contracted to the end of the 2014 Investec Super Rugby season but is now free to take up a new contract he has signed with Clermont Auvergne in France.

“We’re really disappointed that Zac has not be able to achieve his full potential in New Zealand. He is a good man, talented but troubled.

“Zac has struggled to continue to meet the commitments he made to himself to keep on top of his personal issues. Ultimately those issues are private to Zac but all parties agree that cutting ties now is the sensible decision.

“We hope that a change of environment, culture, new mates and challenges for this next stage of his young career will be the catalyst to springboard him back into the top form we know he can achieve both on and off the field.

“We hope he keeps the dream to pursue the black jersey alive, and returns one day to fulfil that,” Sorensen said.

Crusaders Coach Todd Blackadder said it had not been easy for Zac or the Crusaders to come to this point, but in the end they had mutually agreed that the best way forward for Zac is for him to make a fresh start in France.

“Zac has been a Crusader for four years and there are a lot of people here who care about him a lot. We’ve been working alongside him to try and help him reach his true potential both on and off the field and we wish him nothing but the best for the future.

“There is no doubt that Zac has had some tough times in the last few years and there have been disappointments for all of us, but he is a bright young man with plenty of rugby left in him and we will be sending our best wishes and support with him for the next step in his career and life,” Blackadder said.

The Crusaders will not replace Guildford for the remainder of this season.

Bernice Boikanyo takes the stage at the Joburg “Civic” Theatre on Monday June 16

Bernice Boikanyo is set to thrill  music lovers once again when he takes the stage at the Joburg “Civic” Theatre on Monday June 16 to commemorate the Youth Day,hence the “LOVE UPRISING CONCERT” as he explains it.

Bernice is fresh  from a series of concerts in Los Angeles, New York and around S.A – which included a gig with South Africas saxophonists Sipho “Hotstix” Mabuse at Liliesleaf in Rivonia for 50th commemoration of Nelson Mandela’s “I AM PREPARED TO DIE” speech and the musical “ANTHEMS OF DEMOCRACY” that took place in Joburg Theater last month in Mandela Theater, which was celebrated by amongst others including   Bright Blue,Yvonne Chaka-Chaka, Sipho Mabuse, Joan Armatrading .


In 1976 the youth of South Africa uprised against the enforcement of AFRIKAANS by the apartheid regime.


Today Bernice is celebrating this day by encouraging South Africans to love and embrace each other instead of accusing one another by racial believes or colour of their skin.


“For me it is going to be a particularly special moment because I will be performing in a place that in 1976 a black artists/musicians wouldn’t be allowed to be in adds Bernice.


One of the country’s talented and entertaining drummers, Boikanyo has graced international stages and played alongside world-class musicians – notably Edmund “Ed” Thigpen, a veteran American jazz drummer well-known for his involvement in the Oscar Peterson Trio; and trumpeter Roy Hargrove, twice Grammy winner known for his stellar works with jazz giants like Wynton Marsalis and Herbie Hancock.

Bernice Boikanyo

Bernice Boikanyo



He has also played with drummer/percussionist Tutty Moreno, an important figure in Brazilian popular music. On the local front, Boikanyo has pitted his skills against notable figures such as Tlale Makhene, Sylvester Mazinyane, Prince Lengoasa, Bheki Khoza, Jimmy Dludlu, Sipho Mabuse, McCoy Mrubata, with whom he recorded that amazing collaboration album, Brasskap Sessions – Volume One, and Vusi Khumalo, his mentor. He was a core member of the Ringo Madlingozi band.


“For this gig, music lovers should expect songs from my debut album, My Soul as well as new material for my forthcoming release. Fans should be thrilled by his regular line-up of young talents such as Sakhile Nkosi (bass), Mongezi Conjwa (piano), Percy Mbonani (sax). Boikanyo will be performing at the Jorburg/Civic Theatre for the first time as a leader, but remarkably his been performing in other places including the Soweto Theater in 2013 a stunning show that was put together by his company “Boikanyo Music Productions.


Born in a musical family in Soweto, Bernice’s love for music was evident from an early age when he started singing in a boys’ choir at primary school. He took formal lessons at several institutions, notably FUBA Music Academy in Joburg and Funda Art Centre, Soweto.


The Joburg Theatre show promises to be a great symbolic of love uprising. Doors open at 7pm. The show starts at 8pm.


for more info contact Razia Myers  –Razia@triplementertainment.co.za

Kieran Read back for Crusaders

The Crusaders have made just one change to their team to play the Force, with Kieran Read returning to play for the first time in six weeks.

Read, who has fully recovered from both the concussion sustained in the Chiefs game and the cold that kept him out of contention last week, will captain the side and play at Number 8. That sees Luke Whitelock move to the bench.

There are no other changes to the team that beat the Highlanders in a southern derby thriller last Saturday night.

This will be the Crusaders’ final home game before the June test window and Head Coach Todd Blackadder said the home crowd support is going to be more important than ever.

“We are up against another very tough team this week and this win is so important for both of us. So we need to make the most of every advantage we’ve got, and the home crowd is one of the big ones,” Blackadder said. “The Crusaders supporters at AMI Stadium this season have been outstanding and we are determined to show our appreciation with a great performance on Friday night.”

Kick off at AMI Stadium (Addington) is at 7:35pm and there will be plenty of entertainment leading up to the game, including the Jordan Luck Band playing at 6:45pm.

1. Tim Perry
2. Ben Funnell
3. Nepo Laulala
4. Dominic Bird
5. Samuel Whitelock
6. Jordan Taufua
7. Richie McCaw
8. Kieran Read (C)
9. Andy Ellis
10. Colin Slade
11. Nemani Nadolo
12. Ryan Crotty (VC)
13. Tom Taylor
14. Johnny McNicholl
15. Israel Dagg
16. Corey Flynn
17. Wyatt Crockett
18. Owen Franks
19. Jimmy Tupou
20. Luke Whitelock
21. Willi Heinz
22. Adam Whitelock
23. Nafi Tuitavake

– Well-prepared Junior Boks fly out to New Zealand

A well-prepared Junior Springboks squad departs on Monday evening to New Zealand where they will participate in the IRB Junior World Championship (JWC).

The JWC event will be staged from 2 to 20 June in Auckland and surrounding areas. Twelve teams, including the South Africa Under-20’s as well as defending champions England, 2013 runners-up Wales, and hosts, New Zealand, will compete for the title.

South Africa won the JWC for the first time in 2012 on home soil.

Junior Boks coach, Dawie Theron, had his training squad together for more than a month in Stellenbosch and he is confident his squad is well-prepared for the daunting task.

Theron, himself a former Springbok prop and now in charge of his fourth Junior Bok squad at the JWC, said the time spent together at their camp in Stellenbosch had forged the SA U20’s into a tight unit.

“Our boys have a great team spirit and they are definitely looking forward to playing in New Zealand,” explains Theron.

The Junior Boks’ preparations included a 3-0 series win over Argentina Under-20, but Theron added his team will not take anything for granted:

“Our previous performances at the tournament have taught us many valuable lessons. This is an extremely tough tournament to win. To be successful, you must be on top of your game in each match and give 100 per cent. You also need a bit of luck with injuries, because the turnaround time in between games is very tight. It also helps if you have some degree of experience in your team because those players will calm the others around them because they know what to expect,” explains the SA U20 coach.

South Africa are drawn in a tough group alongside Scotland, New Zealand and Samoa.

“Right now, we regard our opening match against Scotland as the most challenging clash,” cautioned Theron.

“The tournament format is tough on you if you lose, so our initial focus will be on the match against the Scots. We are in no way underestimating Scotland or Samoa. That said we know that facing New Zealand in their back yard in front of their fans and in familiar conditions, will be an extremely big challenge. But we will be looking to build a good foundation in our first match.”
Interesting facts:

•There are 17 forwards and 11 backs in the squad. As in previous years, the Blue Bulls have supplied the most players (13), followed by the Sharks (5).

•The squad initially included two sets of twin brothers, Jean-Luc (flank) and Daniel du Preez (lock, both Cell C Sharks) and the Kriel twins, Jesse (fullback) and Dan (centre, both Vodacom Blue Bulls). However, Dan du Preez had to withdraw because of a shoulder injury. His replacement is Jacques Vermeulen (DHL Western Province).

•The Du Preez twins follow in the footsteps of their older brother Robert, who played flyhalf and centre last year for the Junior Springboks in France. The trio are the sons of former Springbok scrumhalf Robert du Preez.

•Flyhalf Jean-Luc du Plessis (Cell C Sharks) is the son of former Springbok wing and coach Carel du Plessis.

The Junior Springboks’ 2014 JWC fixtures:

2 June: SA vs Scotland (North Harbour)
6 June: SA vs New Zealand (North Harbour)
10 June: SA vs Samoa (Pukekohe)
15 June: Playoffs (Tbc)
20 June: Finals (Auckland)

The squad is (in alphabetical order):

Cyle Brink (Golden Lions, flank)
Aidon Davis (EP Kings, No.8)
Jean-Luc du Plessis (Cell C Sharks, flyhalf)
Jean-Luc du Preez (Cell C Sharks, flank)
Thomas du Toit (Cell C Sharks, prop)
Joseph Dweba (Toyota Free State, hooker)
Corniel Els (Vodacom Blue Bulls, hooker)
André Esterhuizen ( Cell C Sharks, centre)
Warrick Gelant (Vodacom Blue Bulls, fullback)
Lloyd Greeff (Leopards, wing)
Dan Kriel (Vodacom Blue Bulls, centre)
Jesse Kriel (Vodacom Blue Bulls, fullback)
Wilco Louw (Vodacom Blue Bulls, prop)
Thabo Mabuza (Golden Lions, flank)
Malcolm Marx (Golden Lions, hooker)
Rohan Janse van Rensburg (Vodacom Blue Bulls, centre)
Mthokozisi (Zee) Mkhabela (Toyota Free State, scrumhalf)
Ngobisizwe Mxoli (Vodacom Blue Bulls, prop)
Abongile Nonkontwana (Vodacom Blue Bulls, lock)
Sergeal Petersen (EP Kings, wing)
Handrè Pollard (Vodacom Blue Bulls, flyhalf)
JD Schickerling (DHL Western Province, lock)
Pierre Schoeman (Vodacom Blue Bulls, prop)
Victor Sekekete (Golden Lions, flank)
Justin (JP) Smith (Vodacom Blue Bulls, scrumhalf)
Dayan van der Westhuizen (Vodacom Blue Bulls, prop)
Nicolaas Janse van Rensburg (Vodacom Blue Bulls, lock)
Jacques Vermeulen (DHL WP, no 8)

Issued by SARU Corporate Affairs

The Crusaders have got their groove back with a 32-30 bonus point win over the Highlanders in an enthralling derby tonight.

The Crusaders have got their groove back with a 32-30 bonus point win over the Highlanders in an enthralling southern derby tonight.

Some white hot action on the pitch was a marked contrast with the freezing southerly front which had passed over Dunedin just before kick off.

It took a desperate tackle on winger Patrick Osborne in the final act of the game to deny the Highlanders with both teams scoring four tries.

The Crusaders started full of intent to make up for last week’s loss to the Sharks, monstering the Highlanders scrum and applying relentless pressure on the goal line.

Johnny McNicholl dropped the ball with the corner open and then dished up a forward pass for Nemani Nadolo, but eventually the pressure told and Jordan Taufua took the direct route to the tryline.

Finally, after quarter of an hour the Highlanders were able to run out of their own half, just as the crowd was in danger of getting a crick in their necks.

Aaron Smith hacked a loose ball upfield and then won the race to secure possession, the resulting penalty seeing the Highlanders go the corner.

Cynical play by the Crusaders was met with a yellow card for Richie McCaw by referee Glen Jackson as the tide began to turn the Highlanders’ way.

With McCaw in the bin, the Highlanders scored from a deceptive little pass by Aaron Smith to Ged Robinson after 24 minutes.

Osborne grabbed the Highlanders’ second try four minutes later with some quality finishing down the right hand touchline after lovely lead up work by Aaron and Ben Smith, and a top offload by Malakai Fekitoa, who was having a whale of a game.

By the time McCaw returned the Highlanders had scored 12 unanswered points and they would take a 12-10 lead into halftime after 40 minutes of tough, sometimes testy, football.

The Crusaders struck back immediately after the break, Tim Perry crashing over to put the visitors into the lead before Lima Sopoaga evened the scores going into the final half hour with a penalty.

Perry’s front row partner Nepo Laulala scored the Crusaders’ third try and the two starting props were rewarded with a trip to the bench as Wyatt Crockett, Owen Franks and Corey Flynn were injected into the game.

Both tries came on the back of barging runs by Nadolo and he looked to seal it with the Crusaders’ fourth try after a super draw by Israel Dagg saw him smash over in the corner.

Fekitoa scored in the corner with less than 15 minutes to go, but replacement kicker Hayden Parker’s conversion left the Highlanders needing a converted try to steal the win.

Ben Smith’s bonus point try and Parker’s sideline conversion set the game up for a grandstand finish with the Crusaders hanging onto a 32-30 lead in the final five minutes.

Some amazing Crusaders defence eventually saw TMO Vinny Munro have to make the tightest of calls with Osborne judged to have just missed out by a blade of grass in the corner.

Crusaders 32 (Jordan Taufua, Tim Perry, Nepo Laulala, Nemani Nadolo tries; Colin Slade 3 con, 2 pen) Highlanders 30 (Ged Robinson, Patrick Osborne, Malakai Fekitoa, Ben Smith tries; Lima Sopoaga con, pen, Hayden Parker pen, con)

– Stuff

Blackadder has to somehow convince the Crusaders to keep their minds on the Highlanders challenge on Sat

Todd Blackadder must despise this time of the year.

The All Blacks wider training camps might be deemed a necessary evil by the New Zealand Rugby Union ahead of the June test series but Crusaders coach Blackadder must wish he could march into their Wellington headquarters, put a flame to this segment of the calendar and tell them to stop meddling with Super Rugby.

Following last weekend’s dreadful 30-25 loss to the 14-man Sharks side at AMI Stadium, Blackadder must be trying every trick he knows to force his soldiers to focus on tomorrow night’s match against the Highlanders in Dunedin.

He refused to blame the camps for his side’s capitulation to the Sharks but there’s little doubt the Crusaders played like a side that were distracted by other issues.

Given the compacted nature of the Super Rugby log, the top eight teams are only separated by nine points, Blackadder cast his mind back to the must-win scenario the Crusaders were in before they played the Lions in Johannesburg on April 6.

“It feels like we’re in a similar situation now,” Blackadder said. “The whole key to learning is you don’t need to put yourself in that position to perform.

“When you go out there and are wearing the Crusaders jersey you want to win every single moment. And that was what was important last week. We performed poorly and we really beat ourselves . . . Some of the stuff we did out there was really beyond comprehension.”

It hasn’t been an easy week for anyone involved with the Crusaders.

Once again No 8 Kieran Read has been scratched – a head cold has been blamed for his omission instead of the concussion that has plagued him over the last month – and that news was unexpectedly revealed by All Blacks coach Steve Hansen on Wednesday.

Blackadder said the decision to leave Read in Christchurch was no cover-up and was emphatic his concussion symptoms were no longer lingering.

In the past many players have been told to gobble pills and get into the action but there were fears that a lack of physical preparation – Read only began contact training yesterday – and the cold could have ruled him ineffective, even if he was in the reserves.

“Even if you put him on the bench there could be an injury in the first minute and he would have to go out there to play,” Blackadder said.

Having 10 players involved in the camp meant Blackadder couldn’t get things rolling at trainings until Wednesday.

Blackadder has swapped his whole front row, which includes the benching of All Blacks props Wyatt Crockett and Owen Franks, returned Andy Ellis to halfback, ditched centre Reynold Lee-Lo for Tom Taylor and brought back Israel Dagg at fullback.

Shifting Nemani Nadolo from the wing and into centre, where his hard-running style would prove the perfect foil to Malakai Fekitoa, was seriously considered but Blackadder was reluctant to force another positional change with that transfer.

“We did discuss that at length. It’s quite a few shuffles and changes so we just thought we would keep him there. He [Nadolo] had a quiet game last week and we would be putting him in a new position and trying to build his confidence.”

The All Blacks camps mean he will lose the majority of his starting side from Sunday through to Tuesday (barring Luke Whitelock who hasn’t been invited to Wellington) and Blackadder has to somehow convince the side to keep their minds on the Highlanders challenge.

“Back to earth is certainly where we have been this week. I’m not sure where our heads were and whether we were looking too far ahead. The reality, now, is that we can’t afford any more slip-ups. Every game is critical.”

Crusaders: Israel Dagg, Johnny McNicholl, Tom Taylor, Ryan Crotty (c), Nemani Nadolo, Colin Slade, Andy Ellis, Luke Whitelock, Richie McCaw, Jordan Taufua, Sam Whitelock, Dominic Bird, Nepo Laulala, Ben Funnell, Tim Perry. Reserves: Corey Flynn, Wyatt Crockett, Owen Franks, Jimmy Tupou, George Whitelock, Willi Heinz, Adam Whitelock, Nafi Tuitavake.


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