Crusaders Johannesburg-bound for final

Jul 29, 2017 - 4:00 PM The stage is set - the Crusaders will make the 11,500km trip to Johannesburg for next week's Super Rugby final.

And it's all thanks to the Hurricanes.

The Cantabrians' traditional enemies have tripped them up twice in the past fortnight, ruining any chance of a home final in Christchurch.

First, the Hurricanes downed the Crusaders 31-22 in the final round of the season, enabling the Lions to finish first overall on the Super Rugby ladder.

Then on Saturday the Hurricanes squandered a 22-3 lead against the Lions to lose 44-29 in their semi-final and force the Crusaders to travel to South Africa.

That match will take place next Saturday (local time), and will further fatigue a side that had to get through 185 tackles in their offensively ruthless 27-13 semi-final win over the Chiefs.

With their backs against the wall for much of Saturday's match, and barely one-third of possession, the Crusaders seized on every chance.

Midfielder-cum-winger Seta Tamanivalu bagged a clinical double, after earlier efforts by halfback Bryn Hall and Test stalwart Israel Dagg.

"We were pretty relentless - we knew it was going to be tough, we just knew that we were going to be in a street fight," coach Scott Robertson said.

Robertson admitted his side would need to return to their usual dominant selves to trump the Lions.

They will also have to keep their foot on the gas for the full 80 minutes, as the Hurricanes now know all too well.

Comfortably ahead with halftime approaching, a late Lions try to Jacques Van Rooyen foreshadowed a second-half collapse in which they conceded five tries and lost Beauden Barrett to a yellow card.

Robertson, meanwhile, backed his troops to get the job done in what will be their third Super Rugby final since 2011.

However, they have not won the competition since 2008.

"We've got some great leaders and we give them a lot of ownership, responsibility on the field to make the right calls," Robertson said.

"We do a lot of planning during the week to make sure we give them all the tools, and (then) we trust them.

"We've been so close. We want to go a step further, instead of being so close - we want to hold it up, and we've got the group to do it."

Source: AAP

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