Crusaders

'In your face' approach in store for Crusaders

Buoyed by news they will play in front of a sellout crowd of 62,000 at Ellis Park, the Lions have their sights set on becoming the competition's second South African champions when they host the decider on Sunday morning.

Standing in the way of the overall top qualifiers are the New Zealand conference-winning Crusaders, who share the same 16 win-one loss record this season.

Lions coach Johan Ackermann is adamant his team mustn't depart from the expansive methods that have taken them to successive finals.

South Africa visa changes hit Crusaders fans

Because a 20-year visa-free travel arrangement between South Africa and New Zealand has ended, Kiwis now require a three-month holiday visa to visit the Republic; and as passionate Crusaders fan Grant Golding has discovered, getting one at short notice is very difficult.

After the Crusaders beat the Chiefs in the semifinal at AMI Stadium last weekend, Golding contacted the South African High Commission in Wellington to ask about securing the documentation to travel to the Republic.

Lions loosies dream big

The Lions host the seven-time champion Crusaders in the Super Rugby title match in Johannesburg on Sunday morning (NZ time), looking to lift the silverware for the first time.

Having pulled off a remarkable comeback semifinal win over the champion Hurricanes at Ellis Park last weekend, No 8 Ackermann said the quick turnaround meant the enormity of the occasion was still sinking in.

Fans 'fed up with stadium'

About 13,000 people - well short of the 21,600 the temporary stadium can accommodate - rugged up in the cold to watch the Crusaders beat the Chiefs 27-13 in their Super Rugby semifinal.

Riach was "disappointed and caught a little by surprise" by the number of empty seats at the all Kiwi semifinal, and believes the last couple of weeks has further rammed home the fact the city needs a multi-purpose indoor arena.

Crotty hails defensive effort

Steam billowed from the mouth of Crusaders second five-eighth Crotty on Saturday night as he discussed the upcoming Super Rugby final against the Lions in Johannesburg next Sunday morning (NZT), a small cup of soup nestled in his hand as he tried to stay warm in the sub-zero temperatures at AMI Stadium.

Crusaders beat Chiefs 27-13 to advance to Super Rugby final

With their backs against the wall for much of Saturday’s match, and barely one-third of possession, the Crusaders seized on every chance.

Midfielder-cum-winger Seta Tamanivalu bagged a clinical double, after earlier efforts by halfback Bryn Hall and Test stalwart Israel Dagg.

Without the ball, the Crusaders were equally impressive, holding a territorially dominant Chiefs outfit — with Damian McKenzie lurking from deep — to a single try, a late consolation to lock Brodie Retallick.

The wetter the better say Crusaders

It's nine years since the competition's most successful franchise the Crusaders last won the title.

Coach Scott Robertson's midas touch in just his first year in charge has seen the Crusaders win all but one of their games.

He was particularly pleased with they how they waded to a 17-nil quarterfinal win against the Highlanders on a watelogged AMI Stadium and would be just as happy for it to be as wet again tomorrow night.

"The wetter the better," enthused Roberston.

"Hell yeah...we're boys from the deep South and we embrace it.'

Tamanivalu turns down Chiefs

Powerful utility back Tamanivalu had been chased by Colin Cooper about a move back to Hamilton, confirming he had spoken to the incoming Chiefs coach on the phone.

However, the three-test All Black has decided to spend a second season with the Crusaders and said it was a relatively straight-forward decision when he thought about how much he has been enjoying this first year with the team.
 
"I have been loving playing for this team and learning from the coaches and players around me.

Crusaders still at full strength

By sticking with the 23 men who combined to dust-up the Highlanders 17-0 in the wet, slippery conditions during the quarterfinal at AMI Stadium last weekend, Robertson has signaled the Crusaders believe they are capable of executing a variety of game plans during the sudden-death fixture.

Rain is forecast to fall in Canterbury over the next few days, but to clear by Saturday afternoon.

Chiefs up against history

By flying into New Zealand from South Africa, as they will on Tuesday morning, then winning a playoff match, they will have ended a 12-game losing streak for teams in such situations, that stretches back almost 20 years.

Travelling teams have struggled in the playoffs full stop, winning just 23 per cent of matches, but when they have to fly across the Indian Ocean, and then across the Tasman, that figure falls to 13 per cent.