A shellshocked Crusaders coach Scott Robertson has lamented a lack of accuracy in all aspects of their game as they were upset by the Highlanders 33-12 in Christchurch.
The southerners started the night as heavy underdogs and headed north looking to end their shocking week on a high.
Despite having six players stood down and others unavailable through injury, the Highlanders simply wanted it more than the defending champions, who were guilty of making uncharacteristic unforced errors throughout the Super Rugby Aotearoa contest.
The final 21-point margin was 'Landers biggest win over the Crusaders, who will hope their shock defeat will light a fire within them as they look to rebound against the Hurricanes next week.
"We pride ourselves on these events not having to happen to get us fired up, but it's definitely a different feeling and the boys are hurting right now," Robertson says.
"We made 22 errors, I think 15 handling errors, turned a little bit of ball over at the breakdown and their urgency and desperation was pretty exceptional.
"We were sitting in the coaches box saying, 'How can we be smarter?' It's definitely a different feeling, yeah."
The Crusaders suffered just their eighth loss under Scott Robertson since 2017. opening the door to the chasing pack who are closing the gap on the four-time defending champions, as sides battle for a spot in the grand final.
"Last time we played them it was a game of small margins and tonight they won those 50-50 balls," he says. "We couldn't hold onto the ball on the wing a couple of times.
"We made a couple of poor defensive reads, they hit the ground off a great kicking structure, again stuff we preview but they executed.
"The effort was high for us but accuracy was poor."
The Crusaders will have a week to prepare for the Hurricanes as they look to try to avoid back-to-back defeats for the first time since round four and five in 2018.
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