‘Saders be­gin long trek

The Star Early Edition - - SPORT -

WELLING­TON: The Cru­saders started their long trek to South Africa in search of their eighth Su­per Rugby ti­tle with Kieran Read and Owen Franks on the plane de­spite limp­ing off in the semi-fi­nal vic­tory over the Chiefs.

All Blacks cap­tain Read hurt his knee and limped off in the fi­nal few min­utes of the 27-13 vic­tory at Rugby League Park.

Franks, mean­while, was re­placed at half-time af­ter a long-stand­ing Achilles in­jury flared up.

The Cru­saders were re­quired to wait un­til af­ter the semi-fi­nal be­tween the Lions and Hur­ri­canes be­fore they knew where they would be play­ing the fi­nal and headed to the air­port soon af­ter the South Africans won the game 44-29.

Both were on the plane head­ing to­wards South Africa, the Cru­saders told lo­cal me­dia yes­ter­day.

Their in­clu­sion was good news for the seven-times cham­pi­ons, who demon­strated again on Sat­ur­day their abil­ity to win games most other teams would prob­a­bly lose.

Sev­eral of their 14 reg­u­lar sea­son wins were come­from-be­hind vic­to­ries and on Sat­ur­day they had vir­tu­ally no ball but still man­aged to score four tries.

It came on the back of a tremen­dous for­ward ef­fort in atro­cious con­di­tions in the quar­ter-fi­nal against the High­landers and cen­tre Ryan Crotty felt it would put them in good stead for the highveld at El­lis Park in Johannesburg.

“The boys are pretty proud, it was a mas­sive ef­fort,” Crotty told re­porters. “We have played two of the best teams in the com­pe­ti­tion in the last two weeks and they have not been easy games by any stretch of the imag­i­na­tion.

“Both times we were pretty solid de­fen­sively, it kind of came down to mo­ments and op­por­tu­ni­ties that we man­aged to take.”

The Cru­saders will need to take all the op­por­tu­ni­ties they get at El­lis Park, af­ter the Lions over-ran the Hur­ri­canes from 22-3 down.

Hur­ri­canes coach Chris Boyd was happy to share some in­sights with his fel­low New Zealan­ders.

“(The Lions) opened up pretty eas­ily in the first 20 min­utes; we cre­ated five or six clear, and fairly sim­plis­tic, op­por­tu­ni­ties and I think the Cru­saders can do that as well,” Boyd told lo­cal me­dia.

“That was a phys­i­cal bat­tle, that Chiefs-Cru­saders one, and the Cru­saders had to get through a lot of work de­fen­sively and I’d say that they’d be out on their feet a lit­tle bit.

“It’s not a bridge too far for them but it’s go­ing to be a big chal­lenge and prob­a­bly the num­ber of for­wards in their for­ward pack is po­ten­tially go­ing to stand them in rea­son­able stead.” – Reuters RES­O­LUTE: South Africa’s Dean El­gar, along with Temba Bavuma will have to oc­cupy the crease for the ma­jor­ity of to­day if South Africa have any hope of sal­vaging a draw in the Third Test at The Oval. At stumps last night, El­gar was on 72 off 111 balls and Bavuma 16 off 59 balls.

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