2 Aug 2014

Crusaders chase 8th title

6:51 pm on 2 August 2014

The Crusaders coach Todd Blackadder says his side can emulate the great Crusaders teams of the past and win the Super Rugby trophy for a record eighth time.

Todd Blackadder at Crusaders training.

Todd Blackadder at Crusaders training. Photo: PHOTOSPORT

The former All Black captained the side to the first three of their seven titles, but is still looking for his first as a coach in his sixth season in the job.

The 42-year-old gets his chance to break that drought on Saturday night when the Crusaders meet the New South WalesWaratahs in Sydney.

The grand final has been described as a clash of form and pedigree.

The often rampant Waratahs ran away with the regular season standings this year having swept the board in all the offensive categories - carries, tries, metres, passes, breaks, offloads and most importantly, points.

On Saturday, in front of what is expected to be a Super Rugby record crowd in excess of 55,000, they come up against a Crusaders side who rode a poor start to the season and finished second before crushing the Sharks in their semi-final.

In their 11th title-decider, history is resolutely on the side of the New Zealanders, who beat the Waratahs in both of their two previous finals in 2005 and 2008 and have not lost to the Sydney-based side for a decade.

And even in a match where players without international caps will be the exception, the names of Crusaders stalwarts Richie McCaw, Dan Carter and Kieran Read - who have six IRB World Player of the Year awards between them - stand out.

Winning things the hard way is exactly what Waratahs coach Michael Cheika always wanted

as he tries to lead New South Wales franchise to its first Super Rugby title.

Cheika, who will be going for a special coaching double having led Leinster to their 2009 Heineken Cup triumph, has built a team brimming with confidence that has simply overwhelmed many sides with their attacking potency this year.

Nick Phipps and Bernard Foley have been a revelation as a halfback partnership, while the quicksilver Kurtley Beale at inside centre has played a major role in helping Folau to his 12 tries.