Crusaders out to create a bit of history
SO, THE million-bucks question is: who will be crowned Super Rugby Champions tomorrow? We asked our Independent Media Rugby Writers for their views ...
JACQUES VAN DER WESTHUYZEN WHO WILL WIN? Lions! WHY?
Besides having 60 000 title-hungry fans cheering them on, they know every blade of grass on the turf at Ellis Park. The Crusaders will run out of steam, like the Canes did. And a 15-match unbeaten run is significant and so, too, is the fact that it’s Johan Ackermann’s farewell.
WYNONA LOUW WHO WILL WIN: Lions! WHY:
History may be against them and ahead of them a Lions team that is yet to lose a Super Rugby play-off match at home. However, the Crusaders will go into tomorrow’s Super Rugby final determined to create their own bit of history by becoming the first side to cross the Indian Ocean and win the title. “This team is different and it is our chance to make history. We’ve done that, the Crusaders have paved the way over the years in Super Rugby. We’ve created it and everyone is trying to catch. No-one has crossed the ocean and performed here on the final, so it is a great challenge to be the first. We won our first three Super Rugby finals away and now we have another opportunity in front of us to create our own history again. This group is a special group,” said
The Lions bring it in every area: finesse, a solid pack and goal-kicking skill. In fact, the only negative thing I can say about the hosts is that I hope their sloppy play-off starts are a thing of the past. Other than that, I see no reason why the Lions can’t make it 16 in a row at home tomorrow.
VATA NGOBENI WHO WILL WIN: Lions! WHY:
Crusaders coach Scott Robertson after naming an unchanged team yesterday.
While the Crusaders will be driven by a collective effort to succeed and add an eighth title to their collection, after winning their last in 2009, Robertson also stands on the verge of making history by becoming the first man to win Super Rugby as both player and coach after having played a prominent role during the Crusaders golden years.
“It would be really emotional. We’ve received so many messages of support from the old crew and the recent crew have been behind us and they know how special this group is. So to do it as a coach and a player would be something amazing,” Robertson said.
But the final won’t be won on sentiment or emotion but rather what the Crusaders deliver between the four white lines.
Much of what will unfold from the New Zealanders will be lessons they would have picked up from the Hurricanes’ semi-final defeat to the Lions last weekend.
Discipline will certainly be key, with the Crusaders fearing the kicking abilities of the Lions in Elton Jantjies and Ruan Combrinck. More importantly though, the Crusaders would have learnt that out-muscling and out-running the Lions won’t be enough to prevent them
The Lions have proven that they have what it takes to beat the best teams in the competition. Their ambition to be champions will also be fuelled by the emotions of this being the last game of coach Johan Ackermann’s reign.
MIKE GREENAWAY WHO WILL WIN? Crusaders! WHY?
becoming only the second South African side to win Super Rugby.
The Crusaders will have to outsmart the Lions if they are to have any chance of making their own Super Rugby history, according to Robertson.
“We’ve taken a lot. We know they can punt the ball a mile. And tactically, around our kicking ability, we have some big and long kickers in our team.
“We must make sure we understand our strengths and what the Hurricanes did. Obviously it was a game of two halves and tactically the Lions changed when they needed to.
“So the lessons for us from that game were critical. We know that we have to be really smart,” he explained.
My heart is with Johan Ackermann but across the board the Crusaders have better quality players, man for man. The first 20 minutes is absolutely crucial. If the Crusaders get a healthy lead, they will not succumb to a Lions comeback like the Hurricanes did last week. I think the talent of the Crusaders players will overcome the Lions’ home ground advantage, and the travel effect.
DARRYN POLLOCK WHO WILL WIN? Lions! WHY:
They have shown they are not afraid of Kiwi teams with a good win in their first encounter with one this year, the Hurricanes, and the Kiwis have shown Ellis Park, and altitude, play a big role when the second half push usually comes.