Injured Sharks move to Australia
The Sharks left Christchurch in New Zealand for Australia early on Saturday morning with more questions than answers.
Coach John Plumtree had hoped the time on the road would reveal the true character of his side, and that they would revel in their underdog status after being written off early in the Super 14 competition.
But the 35-6 loss at AMI Stadium in Christchurch only served to highlight the failings. There is no shame in losing to the record seven-time champion, especially on the road, but it is the manner (without a try) of the defeat that is disconcerting.
In fact Sharks have managed one try in their three matches - not good enough for a team boasting the attacking talents of Springbok wings JP Pietersen and Odwa Ndungane, centre AD Jacobs and the mercurial Ruan Pienaar at flyhalf.
It is difficult to get away from the fact that the Sharks are more comfortable against teams that throw the ball around, creating counter-attacking opportunities for them.
They struggled in the first game against Chiefs after the rain turned it into a war of attrition against the stubborn Cheetahs and the measured, risk-free Crusaders style.
The visitors opened the scoring in the second minute when Rory Kockott kicked a penalty from well inside his half after Brad Thorn had dumped Ryan Kankowski unceremoniously.
It was just reward for a solid if unspectacular start to the game from the KwaZulu-Natal team.
Crusaders soaked up early pressure and were rewarded for pressure of their own when winger Zac Guildford scored a try in the 19th minute for Dan Carter to convert for a score 7-3 to Crusaders.
A further Carter penalty was answered by another long-range Kockott effort to give Crusader a 10-6 advantage at the break.
The game was all but wrapped up when Guildford intercepted a Sharks pass after another Carter penalty made the score 16-3.
At this stage the Sharks were of the ragged tooth variety. Replacement flyhalf Andy Goode made the worst possible start to his Sharks career when he was yellow-carded in the 75th minute for a high tackle.
Quentin MacDonald clinched the bonus point with the New Zealanders' fourth try of the match at the death.