Crusaders’ woeful record on the Highveld
With all the grand history they come with and boasting some of the best players the world has seen, the Crusaders have an ugly secret they want nobody to speak about.
In the 10 years and four Super Rugby play-off encounters played on the Highveld, the most successful team in the history of Super Rugby is yet to win one.
They will come to Ellis Park tomorrow desperate to shake the monkey off their back. Let’s take a closer look at those four matches: by beating the Reds 92-3 to grab an improbable home semi-final.
It would be easy to attribute the Crusaders surprise maiden loss in a play-off to the travel factor but with an experienced outfit that had made the long trek to the Highveld on numerous occasions, this could not be used as an excuse.
Bulls and Springbok flyhalf Derick Hougaard was the star of the show at Loftus as he scored all of his team’s points with eight penalties and a dropgoal while All Black flyhalf Dan Carter slotted over four penalties.
This would be the beginning of the Crusaders four match play-off dry spell on the Highveld even with their starstudded line-up.
Again, it was the boot of another Bulls flyhalf, this time Morne Steyn, that drove the dagger through the hearts of the New Zealanders as Steyn slotted over four drop-goals and three conversions.
The Bulls were once again superior in all facets of play and crossed the whitewash three times with tries from Springboks Akona Ndungane, Bryan Habana and Pierre Spies while the Crusaders scored two tries from George Whitelock and Kieran Read.
The Crusaders were proving to be the Bulls’ lucky charm as their second semi-final win was a springboard for another Super Rugby title for the side from Loftus Versfeld. as they went on to win a record third title for a South African side and leave an unwanted blemish on the Crusaders play-off record in the competition.