Crusaders sweating over Read

Sun, 30 Jul 2017 09:26

SUPER RUGBY SEMIFINAL REACTION: Crusaders coach Robertson is optimistic that All Black captain Kieran Read will be available for the Final.

The Crusaders will meet the Lions in the grand finale at Ellis Park this coming Saturday, after beating the Chiefs 27-13 in the semifinal in Christchurch at the weekend.

The Crusaders headed to Johannesburg on Sunday with Read and All Black tighthead prop Owen Franks on the team roster - despite both suffering injuries in their semifinal victory.

Read suffered a knee strain and Franks has an Achilles tendon complaint.

Should the two be declared fit for the Final, Robertson could have as many as 10 internationals in their matchday squad at Ellis Park.

The Crusaders coach has some 'insurance' on the flight to South Africa, with Mike Alaalatoa - who came on as a half-time replacement for Franks - to start and Oli Jager travelling as additional front row cover.

Sam Whitelock, who replaced Read as franchise captain this year, has done an admirable job as skipper of the team.

"He is relentless in his work ethic, uncompromising and really clear with the boys and what he wants off the field," Robertson said in reference to Whitelock.

"Most importantly, he plays well every week."

Robertson has already started strategizing on how to beat the Lions at Ellis Park, where the South African champions have not lost a match in a record 15 outings.

Their last defeat at home was in April last year, when the Hurricanes smashed them 50-17 - a defeat they avenged at the weekend with a comprehensive 44-29 victory on the semifinal.

The longest Super Rugby winning streak is held by the Crusaders, who won 16 consecutive matches in 2005 and 2006. The Crusaders also won a record 26 matches at home from Round Six in 2004 to Round 12 in 2007.

"We have got to look at ourselves first," Robertson said.

"They [the Chiefs] had a great game plan to hold the ball for long periods of time, and we probably can't do that again next week against another team for that period of time.

"We have to be better around our game plan."

Robertson, having watched openside flank Matt Todd lead the defence by making a brain-blistering 22 tackles, simply cannot afford to allow his men to get sucked into such a war of attrition against the Lions.

If the Crusaders are again forced to make in excess of 200 tackles, they will simply run out of gas in Johannesburg's rarified air.

Getting the kicking game right at Ellis Park will also be a priority.

"We have kind of got our eyes are on the next job already," midfielder Ryan Crotty said.

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

Source: stuff.co.nz

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Fri, 15 December 2017
Ulster v Harlequins 19h45 Kingspan Stadium
Sat, 16 December 2017
Montpellier v Glasgow Warriors 13h00 Altrad Stadium
Treviso v Scarlets 13h00 Stadio Comunale di Monigo
Leinster v Exeter Chiefs 15h15 Aviva Stadium
Racing Metro v Castres 15h15 Stade Yves-du-Manoir
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Sun, 17 December 2017
Wasps v La Rochelle 13h00 Ricoh Arena
Clermont Auvergne v Saracens 15h15 Stade Marcel-Michelin
Ospreys v Northampton Saints 15h15 Liberty Stadium
Leicester Tigers v Munster 17h30 Welford Road
RESULT SCORE
Mon, 11 December 2017
Saracens v Clermont Auvergne 14 | 46
Sun, 10 December 2017
Exeter Chiefs v Leinster 8 | 18
Harlequins v Ulster 5 | 17
La Rochelle v Wasps 49 | 29
Sat, 09 December 2017
Munster v Leicester Tigers 33 | 10
Castres v Racing Metro 16 | 13
Northampton Saints v Ospreys 32 | 43
Toulon v Bath 24 | 20
Scarlets v Treviso 33 | 28
Fri, 08 December 2017
Glasgow Warriors v Montpellier 22 | 29
Sun, 03 December 2017
Harlequins v Saracens 20 | 19
Sat, 02 December 2017
Cheetahs v Scarlets 28 | 21
Munster v Ospreys 36 | 10
Wasps v Leicester Tigers 32 | 25
Treviso v Leinster 10 | 36
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