Monday, May 22, 2006
Turnovers will be punished
Bulls captain Victor Matfield has issued a warning to the Hurricanes as they head to Jade Stadium to face defending champions the Crusaders in next Saturday’s Super 14 final.
Matfield, who was commenting after last night’s 35-15 semifinal defeat at the hands of the Crusaders, said you simply can’t give the red’n blacks turnover ball.
“If you play against the Crusaders and you give them a chance they use it. That’s why they are a top class outfit because every opportunity they get - they score.”
Matfield reflected that his side had gifted the Crusaders two turnovers in the first half – both of which the home side scored off to lead 16-8 at the break.
He said that last night the Crusaders initially displayed a great kicking game before trying to run the Bulls ragged by throwing the ball across the park. They then changed the game plan entirely to push through the middle .
“That’s what makes them a great side. They can read a situation,” said Matfield.
The Springbok lock concluded that the Crusaders must go in as favourites for Saturday’s inaugural Super 14 final.
“They’ve been champions for the last few years and they’ve ended up number one on the log (points table). With the way they played tonight they must go in as favourites.”
Matfield and his coach Heyneke Meyer did however respect the talent of the other finalist the Hurricanes saying that they had a number of gamebreakers which would make them hard to beat.
Crusaders captain Richie McCaw expected the Hurricanes, like the Bulls, to be a very physical opposition.“The Hurricanes is always a pretty physical battle. Some of the guys they’ve got are good hitters in terms of the way they tackle. They’ve got gamebreakers right across the field.”
It was the Crusaders forward efforts that coach Robbie Deans was praising last night as his side qualified for their fifth consecutive final.
He said the 17 phases, made up largely of pick and drives from the forwards, to charge 50 metres upfield and then score out wide through Chris Jack was critical to the semifinal victory.
“I think it snuffed out the last of their (the Bulls’) belief.”
Now the debate turns to whether the Crusaders have the belief to collect their sixth Super rugby title.
“We’re obviously delighted to be in the position that we’re in,” said Deans.
“We now have one finite outing where we’ve got a chance to make something of the whole campaign.”