Pretoria - The vanquished Crusaders believe the Chiefs have a chance against the
irrepressible Bulls because of their attacking skills but coach
Todd Blackadder and skipper Richie McCaw are also quick to put the
challenge of this week's Super 14 final into perspective for their
Losing the magic of Sitiveni Sivivatu to a dislocated shoulder
is a blow although the Chiefs have shown an ability to operate
without him in the crucial back three division.
But Blackadder believed the biggest task facing Ian Foster's
side was how they would deal with the choker hold the Bulls place
on visiting teams at Loftus Versfeld, content to live off
opposition mistakes as much as create their own opportunities as
the Crusaders had found out again in their second semi-final defeat, losing 36-23 at the Pretoria stronghold.
Many of the Bulls' own creation plans centred around three-point
opportunities with Morne Steyn stepping to the fore. Two years ago
it was Derrick Hougaard kicking all 27 points including a record
eight penalties to beat the Crusaders. On Saturday it was Morne
Steyn's 21 points including a Super 14 record of four dropped goals
that eventually killed off the champions' hopes of defending their
title in Hamilton.
So now it's the Chiefs who enter the Bull-ring and must learn to
find a way past Victor Matfield's side, something they weren't able
to do in week 11 of the round-robin when the Bulls ended the
Chiefs' six-match unbeaten run with a 33-27 win.
"The way the Chiefs are playing, particularly at the back, they
will be dangerous. The Chiefs have got different strengths in
different areas," said Blackadder, offering a ray of hope for the
New Zealanders as they get set for their first Super Rugby
"But the Bulls have got a really strong set piece and the way
they are playing - they play field position and force mistakes,
they never stop trying and with those dropped goals ..."
Blackadder's voice trailed off at the mention of dropped goals
before he quickly added: "It's going to be a great final next
McCaw, who bore the brunt of the Bulls head-on, was in total
agreement with his wise coach about the possibilities and the
certainties in the looming final.
"I think if the Bulls give them a bit of space with inaccurate
kicking the Chiefs have the firepower to put them under pressure,"
"But if the Bulls play that stifling style of rugby where they
play at the right end of the field and take their points on offer,
that's where I think the Chiefs might battle.
"It will be another good match I'd suggest ... it could be a
The Crusaders' leaders lamented their side's inability to press
home their advantage after they lead 20-7. Costly field kicking
mistakes had been punished with two quick counter-attacking tries
by the Bulls just before half-time and then Steyn frustrated them
with his unerring boot.
The dropped goal, a trademark of South African rugby at
altitude, came back to haunt another New Zealand side, just as the
Springboks have done to the All Blacks in the past.
Steyn later made no apologies and suggested more were probably
in store for the Chiefs.
"It was always our game plan for dropped goals because in
semi-finals and finals there aren't many try-scoring opportunities,"
said Steyn who also praised the way the Bulls forwards had set up
the chances for droppies by manoeuvring play into the right field
The Chiefs face a massive logistical exercise ahead of the
final. They left Hamilton at 03:00 on Sunday by bus to Auckland for the
long flight to Johannesburg via Australia. Then it's immediately on
to another bus for the hour's haul to Pretoria.
That will give them less than five days to adjust to the time
difference and altitude factor as well as come up with a game plan
to counter the Bulls.
They have taken a wise precautionary step of adding another prop
to their mix with front-rower Nathan White coming in.