NZPA - (19/05/2010)
Confidence and belief aren't in short supply for the Crusaders who say their high octane gameplan of the past fortnight is enough to upset the Bulls in the Rebel Sport Super 14 rugby semifinal on Sunday (3am NZT).
The Crusaders were given today off training after a light run on arrival in Johannesburg as they eye the table-topping Bulls at a sold out, 40,000-capacity Orlando Stadium in Soweto for a place in the final.
The tourists expect to name a full-strength side, largely unchanged from their 40-22 dispatch of the Brumbies in Christchurch, with minor ankle problems for pivot Dan Carter and prop Ben Franks the only concerns. Medical staff expect both to train tomorrow and weren't rated in doubt, said assistant coach Daryl Gibson.
"Both of them are expected to be right for the game."Gibson said the Bulls had been the Crusaders' focus since their 35-40 defeat in Pretoria in round 13."There's a great deal of confidence around this side and a great deal of belief that we can win this game," Gibson said."The guys were very disappointed after the last game against the Bulls, they felt they'd done enough to win it. There was a real determination out of the Brumbies game that we wanted to head back and play the Bulls, given the previous result."
Both sides know each other well, having clashed in the semifinals last year which the Bulls won 36-23 en route to hammering the Chiefs in the final.Gibson said he and head coach Todd Blackadder saw no reason to be too clever and change their tactics against the Victor Matfield-led Bulls who returned to full strength today after coach Frans Ludeke rested 13 frontliners in their 38-10 loss to the second-placed Stormers last weekend.
"We've tried not to over-think this game too much. The Bulls are a very set team, they do certain things in certain parts of the field and they've got a very good lineout," Gibson said."They kick to exert pressure and we think they won't do anything drastically different. Both teams will go in with gameplans largely the same as the last two games. We certainly won't be changing a great deal.
"You saw the Stormers employ similar tactics against them. It's really suiting the style we want to play at the moment, we've got a lot of outside backs who want to get the ball in their hands and run. We've got a good front eight to exert pressure in the set piece. It's a formula that's worked well and it's one we'll continue to use."
The venue switch should be more of an issue for the hosts, rather than the tourists.Gibson said not much had changed from their usual South African routine after the game was shifted to Soweto from the Bulls' home fortress at Loftus Versfeld, which has been handed over to world soccer governing body Fifa as a World Cup venue.
"It's fairly new for both teams playing in Soweto. We talked a few of the locals and they're finding it interesting that an Afrikaaner population is having to travel to Soweto. I think the general population find that reasonably funny."
The Bulls trained at Orlando yesterday and the Crusaders get their pre-match look at the ground on Friday. It is expected to be perfect for the Crusaders' running game, having been deemed fit to be a World Cup soccer training venue.
"Everyone tells us that the ground surface is very good, as are the facilities," Gibson said
.The Crusaders have also confirmed they will wear their traditional red and black strip, rather than their silver away strip, because there wouldn't be a clash with the Bulls' blue jersey.
The Crusaders lost all three of their South African matches in the round robin wearing silver, and were given the option to wear their home strip at a recent Sanzar meeting.