WELLINGTON – The Crusaders are sick and tired of the “nearly men” tag they have acquired in the nine years since they won their last Super Rugby title and are determined to shed it next week, coach Scott Robertson said on Saturday.
The Christchurch-based side advanced to a 12th Super Rugby final with a 27-13 victory over the Chiefs on Saturday and will face the Lions in next weekend’s decider in Johannesburg.
The Crusaders won seven of nine finals in 11 seasons from 1998 to 2008, but have failed to add to their tally of titles since, despite two more finals and four semi-finals.
“My expectations are pretty high. We had a lot of success when I was playing here,” said Robertson, who played 86 times for the Crusaders from 1996.
“We are sick of being so close without winning it. We want to hold it up. We have got the group to do it, so Saturday night, here we come.”
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Crusaders fans think they have grounds for feeling hard done by in the two finals they have lost, both to Australian opposition, since 2008.
In 2011, they had to play every game on the road because of the deadly Christchurch earthquakes and fatigue caught up with them in the 18-13 loss to the Reds in Brisbane.
In 2014, referee Craig Joubert admitted he had made an error in awarding a penalty that gave the Waratahs their 33-32 victory in Sydney.
The Lions will have their hands full against a Crusaders side who boast the best pack in the competition and demonstrated again on Saturday their ability to win games most other teams would probably lose.
Several of their 14 regular season wins were come-from-behind victories, and on Saturday they had virtually no ball but still managed to score four tries.
“I am over the moon,” Robertson said. “To make a couple of hundred tackles and have about 20 percent of possession and then score those points, we’re pretty stoked as a group.
“It was absolutely nothing we talked about or planned all week, but we got the job done.”