24 Jun 2024

Crusaders Post-Match Thoughts by Chris Thorman

Possession is crucial!

Reflecting on our recent home fixture against the North Wales Crusaders, there are several key takeaways that I want to address. Firstly, I want to commend the team for their effort and determination throughout the game. Playing in such hot conditions is always challenging, and it was clear that both teams felt the intensity of the weather.

However, one of the critical aspects of the game that we need to improve upon is our performance when we don’t have the ball. In rugby league, possession is crucial, and when we lose it, the opposition gains a significant advantage, especially in hot conditions.

When we don’t have the ball, several things happen that put us on the back foot:
1. **Increased Physical Demand**: 
Defending in hot weather is exhausting. The players have to constantly stay on the move, making tackles and covering spaces. This continuous exertion drains energy levels much faster compared to when we have the ball and can control the pace of the game.

2. **Psychological Pressure**: 
Consistent defending puts immense mental pressure on the team. When the opposition has prolonged possession, it can become demoralizing, leading to lapses in concentration and increased likelihood of errors.

3. **Field Position**: 
Without the ball, we are often pushed back into our half, allowing the opposing team to dictate terms and gain favourable field positions. This makes it easier for them to mount scoring opportunities, putting us under constant threat.

4. **Momentum Shift**: 
Possession leads to momentum. When the opposition has the ball for extended periods, they build momentum, making it harder for us to regain control of the game once we do get the ball back.

In the hot conditions we faced today, these disadvantages were magnified. The Crusaders capitalised on our periods without possession, using their time with the ball to keep us on the defensive and exploit the gaps that eventually appeared due to fatigue and pressure.

Moving forward, it’s imperative that we focus on strategies to maintain possession and manage our energy levels better during games played in extreme weather conditions. We need to work on our ball retention, minimizing handling errors and penalties that give away possession too easily. Additionally, improving our defensive structure to be more resilient and conserving energy while under pressure will be key areas of focus.

Despite the challenges, I believe in our squad's ability to learn and bounce back stronger. We have shown glimpses of great play, and with continued hard work and adjustments, I am confident we will see improved performances in the coming fixtures.

Thank you to all the fans who supported us today. Your support means the world to us, and we will continue to strive for better