Vodacom Super 14

Crusaders wish became reality

2010-05-20 23:14
Andy Ellis (Gallo Images)
Pieter Jordaan

Johannesburg – Moments after the Crusaders lost a nail-biting encounter against the Bulls two weeks ago, the New Zealanders decided that they wanted a rematch with the Super 14 champions.

All Black scrumhalf Andy Ellis explained on Thursday how Saturday’s Super 14 semi-final against the Bulls in Soweto was actually a wish that was granted.

“We sat down afterwards (they lost 35-40) and said that we would like to return to play against the Bulls. And here we are two weeks later,” Ellis said at the team’s training session in Fourways.

It is because they came so close that day that the Crusaders believe a victory is possible at the Orlando Stadium.

Had it not been for wing Francois Hougaard’s controversial try with the last move of the game, the Crusaders would have won.

“That is why we play this game. You want to be in front of packed pavilions with everything on the line. It’s always special in Pretoria because the people are right behind the Bulls. A match between them and us is always something special,” said Ellis.

There is a view that the Crusaders will be jet-lagged. They had to return to New Zealand for a make-or-break match against the Brumbies after the defeat at Loftus and then had to fly back to South Africa.

Ellis does not believe that will be a problem.

“To tell the truth, it’s a good thing that we were in South Africa so recently. The guys are still caught in the South African time zone a little.”

Crusaders captain Richie McCaw added that his team had experienced the thin Highveld air enough for it not to be considered a problem.

“We have been around the world twice, but we have done it often enough to be ready on Saturday.”

Crusaders coach Todd Blackadder said that it was a bigger problem adapting to time zones on the Crusaders’ return to New Zealand than is now the case.

Ellis believes the absence of Bakkies Botha is good news for the Crusaders.

“It is probably better for us, but we are still sorry that he’s not playing because it’s nice to play against such a tough guy who whispers things in your ear on the field,” said Ellis.

“I think Brad Thorn (Crusaders lock) is disappointed that he’s not playing against Bakkies.”

The Crusaders’ starting line-up is the same one that beat the Brumbies in Christchurch.

Dan Carter (flyhalf) and Ben Franks (prop) trained without any problems after both were doubtful with ankle injuries earlier in the week.

There is only one change among the substitutes where scrumhalf Kahn Fotuali’i will take over from Willi Heinz.

Bulls v Crusaders, Soweto, 17:05

15. Zane Kirchner, 14. Jaco van der Westhuyzen, 13. Jaco Pretorius, 12. Wynand Olivier, 11. Francois Hougaard, 10. Morné Steyn, 9. Fourie du Preez, 8. Pierre Spies, 7. Dewald Potgieter, 6. Deon Stegmann, 5. Victor Matfield (captain), 4. Danie Rossouw, 3. Werner Kruger, 2. Gary Botha, 1. Gurthrö Steenkamp

Substitutes: 16. Bandise Maku, 17. Bees Roux, 18. Flip van der Merwe, 19. Derick Kuün, 20. Jacques-Louis Potgieter, 21. Stephan Dippenaar, 22. Pedrie Wannenburg

15. Colin Slade, 14. Sean Maitland, 13. Robert Fruean, 12. Daniel Bowden, 11. Zac Guildford, 10. Dan Carter, 9. Andy Ellis, 8. Kieran Read, 7. Richie McCaw (captain), 6. George Whitelock, 5. Sam Whitelock, 4. Brad Thorn, 3. Owen Franks, 2. Ti’i Paulo, 1. Ben Franks

Substitutes: 16. Daniel Perrin, 17. Wyatt Crockett, 18. Chris Jack, 19. Thomas Waldrom, 20. Kahn Fotuali’i, 21. Tim Bateman, 22. Jared Payne

Read more on:    bulls  |  crusaders  |  super 14  |  andy ellis

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