Super Rugby Aotearoa: 'I know we're disliked immensely': Coach Scott Robertson savours another Crusaders triumph

Head coach Scott Robertson is well aware the latest chapter in the Crusaders' dominance of Super Rugby in New Zealand will be tough to swallow for the majority of the country.

Not that he's particularly fazed by the fact, as he savours his team's gritty 24-13 win over the Chiefs in Saturday's Super Rugby Aotearoa final - their fifth consecutive triumph under Robertson.

"I know we're disliked immensely," Robertson said post-match. "But you'd like to think we're respected for what we've done. 

"And to stay hungry for so long and turn up every day, I'm just really proud to coach this team, and it's only half a season done."

The refrain is common among teams across all sports, where any fans beyond those who support them become weary - and a tad jealous - of their ongoing success, and the Crusaders earning their 12th Super Rugby title certainly fits that bill.

Robertson has been around the game long enough to realise such standings are almost a mark of respect, insisting his trademark victory breakdance isn't intended as a means of rubbing noses in the dirt.

"We might get excited post match, but we still fully respect everyone we play, and it just shows how hard we work during the week," he says.

"We have to get better as a team to keep winning. I'd like to think we're respected."

That said, the nature of Saturday's victory didn't make for comfortable viewing for Robertson and his coaching cohorts, as the Crusaders were continually stung by indiscipline - at one stage reduced to 13 man by a pair of yellow cards - and lacked the clinical ruthlessness they've displayed in past finals.

"There was a lot of emotion in the box," Robertson says with a laugh. "We were in all sorts there for a bit."

"I think the players might have been a bit more calmer [than the coaches], but we came right. It's just because we couldn't finish anything.

"We create so much, played some great footy, and then just the ends of our sets we'd turn the ball over or the ball would go out on the full, or it would be a knock on...then we just found a way."

Yes, as they so often do, the Crusaders found a way. And - yet again - it was their general Richie Mo'unga who stepped to the fore to steer his team to land.

Coach Scott Robertson celebrates in trademark fashion.
Coach Scott Robertson celebrates in trademark fashion. Photo credit: Photosport

As the rain began to bucket down late at OrangeTheory Stadium, the All Blacks pivot took control of proceedings, showcasing the full spectrum off his boot with supreme tactical kicking, then a pair of penalties and a drop goal to put the final nail in the Chiefs' coffin.

"What a player...freakish," Robertson remarks on his star fist-five. "They are some quarterback plays. He's special."

While Robertson believes their defensive effort ultimately won the game, he admits they were careless at times, especially at the breakdown, where over-exuberance cost them.

Unfortunately for the Chiefs, Damian McKenzie was unable to make the Crusaders pay, missing three handy shots at goal at critical junctures of the contest.

"We let them back in the game for periods of time. Thank goodness Damian [McKenzie] was slightly off radar."

As for the sin binnings, Robertson confessed to some anxiety awaiting referee Ben O'Keeffe's choice of cards for Codie Taylor, after the hooker took McKenzie out in the air, but was less worried when it came to Sevu Reece's high tackle on Chase Tiatia.

'[Taylor] just saw [McKenzie] late, went to go and turn out of it," he notes. "Lucky [McKenzie] fell okay and that was probably the mitigating side of it.

"Sevu sort of hit lower and went up, it wasn't full contact. 

"They made the calls and we rolled with it."