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Crusaders out to atone for Suva disaster

NZ NewswireNZ Newswire 7/07/2016

The Crusaders are vowing to make amends for a miserable Pacific experience when they host the injury-riddled Melbourne Rebels in Christchurch.

Coach Todd Blackadder says motivation won't be a problem for Saturday's game against the 12th-placed visitors after their 23-13 loss to the Chiefs in Fiji last week - a pivotal result at the top of the New Zealand conference.

Their timing was awful two rounds out from the play-offs, dropping from first overall to third, two points behind South Africa's Lions and one point behind the Chiefs.

Blackadder lamented a performance laden with mistakes and poor option-taking in rain-hit Suva, which could prove very costly when the final play-off makeup is confirmed.

"We can't afford to look back but that was a big opportunity missed. This team was down on Monday and deservedly so," Blackadder said.

"That was probably our most disappointing performance of the year. We've lost other games but we've really fronted."

The Rebels have been forced to name a severely-weakened team because of injuries and, coming off four losses from their last five games, face a stiff task to repeat last year's 20-10 upset win in Christchurch.

However, Blackadder says complacency won't be an issue as he demands an emphatic performance from his side, openly admitting a four-try bonus point is also one of their targets.

"We're going to come out firing regardless of where they're at. The psychology games won't work with us this week.

"We need to put in a performance that we're proud of because we didn't do that last week."

Blackadder's only concession to forward planning was the resting this week of over-worked All Blacks No.8 Kieran Read, with lock Sam Whitelock inheriting the captaincy.

On the eve of his 100th Super Rugby game, Whitelock labelled Bulls kingpin Victor Matfield and former Wallabies lock Nathan Sharpe as the two best opponents he has faced since debuting in 2010.

"Victor, early on around lineout time, was pretty hard to get my head around," he said.

"Nathan Sharpe too, was at the height of his powers. I got taught a lesson or three there. He was one of the most under-rated locks in international rugby."

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