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'Test intensity' blows away Hurricanes

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Sunday, April 22, 2012    Sportal.co.nz    Getty Images

The Hurricanes have yet to record a win this season at the venue and were always on the back foot against a Crusaders team that dominated the set-piece and had too much firepower out wide.

The visitors had wrapped up the try-scoring bonus point by half-time thanks to five-pointers for Kieran Read, Dan Carter, Robbie Fruean and Israel Dagg before the Crusaders fullback added a fifth midway through the second half.

Andre Taylor scored a fine individual effort for the Hurricanes on the stroke of half-time, while Victor Vito caught the Crusaders defence napping to power over shortly after the break to give the home side a glimmer of hope.

But the reality was a poor kicking game and too many errors and turnovers at the breakdown stymied the Hurricanes who will have to bounce back quickly as they travel to Hamilton for a match against the Chiefs on Saturday.

"We met a really good side that played really well," said Smith of the Crusaders' performance. "They exposed a few weaknesses in our side. We kept fighting, and that's all we ask. But ultimately we met a much better side on the night.

"They expose your faults and a good side does that. That's what they did to us. We've got a long way with the passion and the heart of the group but you've got to bring smarts and skill as well.

"We are getting better and it's not to say that we're not capable of that (level of performance). It just takes time and we're a new group.

"A lot of people thought there would be scores like that the whole season long with our side. But we've shown we've got a bit more fight than that. We've had a tough night but we'll bounce back."

The Hurricanes rarely had the ball in the first half as they opted to kick, but after the break they kept the ball in hand more and took the fight to the Crusaders.

"I was happy that we stood up," said Smith. "You can fall apart at times like that and I've been in teams where that does happen.

"But we stuck together and whenever I talked in the huddle they were still looking at me, they weren't dropping their heads, so that's a good thing to take out of it."

Coach Mark Hammett felt the biggest difference between to the two sides was the intensity level the Crusaders brought.

"The Crusaders brought that Test match intensity," he said. "If there's a learning it's about the need for that intensity that will take you on to win championships.

"We'll go back and work out how we get that intensity to where we need it to be.

"They got off to a flyer. It was bloomin' hard to pull that back," he added. "We got that try on half-time and one after half-time and I thought we could be in with a sniff.

"But they came with a good plan, executed it well and executed it with really good intensity."