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South Africa's Bulls have long set their sights on creating a dynasty as the best provincial team in world rugby, a feat they can achieve with victory over compatriots the Stormers in the Super 14 final on Saturday.
Captain Victor Matfield said the final, to be played in the black township of Soweto because the Bulls' home ground, Loftus Versfeld in Pretoria, is being prepared for the World Cup, is the culmination of seven years of legacy-building as they chase their third Super 14 title in four years.
Former coach Heyneke Meyer guided the Bulls to the title in 2007 and current coach Frans Ludeke presided over the team regaining the trophy last year.
Only the Canterbury Crusaders (7) and the Auckland Blues (3) have won more than two Super 14 crowns.
"Seven years ago, Heyneke said that we wanted to be the top union in world rugby. To do that, we need to win the Super 14 often, like the Crusaders have done," lock Matfield told Reuters before turning his full attention to a laptop showing clips of the Cape-Town-based Stormers lineout.
"That's always been my goal, to keep winning the Super 14 and be the top provincial side in world rugby."
The Bulls cantered to victory last year, finishing top of the standings and thrashing the Waikato Chiefs 61-17 in the final. They finished top of the table again this year and even firebrand Stormers captain Schalk Burger has conceded they are near to their goal.
"We know we're playing against the best side in the Southern Hemisphere over the past few years, in Super 14 for the last three or four years, they've led the way," Burger told Reuters.
"For us here in Cape Town, we've tried to keep up. This year we've sat in the Bulls' slipstream for most of the year. We've got a lot of respect for them, but in saying that we'd like to make a good fist of it."
The Stormers have been the Bulls' nearest challengers in the regular season, finishing second, three points behind the, but the defending champions believe the visitors' lack of experience in playing in such major finals could be a telling factor.
Before this year, the Stormers had played in just two Super 14 semi-finals, losing in both 1999 and 2004. Wing Bryan Habana, twice with the Bulls in the 2007 and 2009 Super 14 finals, and Burger and centre Jaque Fourie, all members of the 2007 Rugby World Cup-winning Springbok team, are the only Stormers to have appeared in a major final.
"We're lucky to have been there before, we have the experience. Although we know it will be a tough game, we're very confident, we're 2playing good rugby, we believe in our structures and we will try to do what we do well even better," Matfield said.
"In finals, first the structure must be there, then the game-breakers come through. It's about making the right decisions at the right time, that's what wins big games," he said with the knowledge of a man who has won the World Cup, two Tri-Nations, two Super 14s and, domestically, five Currie Cup titles. - Reuters