Crusaders No 8 Kieran Read is in a race against time to be fit for the final. Photo: Martin Hunter,

JOHANNESBURG – Crusaders coach Scott Robertson says the seven-time Super Rugby champions are desperate to end a trophy drought that has spanned nearly a decade.

The Crusaders are the most successful club in Super Rugby history, which has seen them claim the title on seven previous occasions.

The last time the Crusaders held the trophy aloft was way back in 2008, although they have consistently remained a competitive force for the better part of the last decade.

In 2014, a last-gasp Bernard Foley penalty saw the Waratahs clinch a thrilling 33-32 win over the Crusaders in the final, which is the closest former coach Todd Blackadder came to leading the Saders to another title.

Yet, in his first year in charge, Robertson has now brought the Crusaders to within one win of claiming another Super Rugby title, with Saturday’s final against the Lions at Ellis Park the last hurdle, and he admitted that “expectations are pretty high”.

“We had a lot of success when I was playing here,” the former flank commented. “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.”

Should the Crusaders manage to overcome the Lions on Saturday, they would become the first side to traverse the Indian Ocean and win a final overseas.

The good news for the Christchurch-based outfit is that influential All Blacks Kieran Read and Owen Franks are expected to be fit, despite the fact that both players came off with injuries in their quarter-final against the Chiefs.

“Read has got an old ‘niggly’ knee and he gave it a little tweak,” Robertson said. “It has swollen up, but he will be fine. He has done it before and gotten through the week.

“Owen has an Achilles (injury) which is not good in the cold, and he sat down at halftime and after five minutes he said ‘I’m done’ – so we decided to look after him.

“We have a full week to recover, though, so we are optimistic they will be fine.”

African News Agency (ANA)