Crusaders

Going on a Mauger Crusade

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Crusaders and All Black inside centre Aaron Mauger is confident the six-time Super Rugby champions can knock the Bulls out of their stride when the two sides meet in the Super 14 semi-final in Pretoria on Saturday.

Speaking after the team’s arrival in Umhlanga Rocks, the resort area north of Durban were they are preparing before relocating to Pretoria on Friday, Mauger admitted that the Bulls had clearly struck a rich vein of form.

This include the record 92-3 win over the Reds last Saturday, to go along with hammerings of the Blues (40-19 – the Blues’ sole try came after the full-time hooter had sounded), Lions (31-7) and Stormers (49-12). That is 212 points for and just 41 against – an average victory margin of 53-10. Even without the Reds game the Bulls managed to average 40 points per game in the previous three matches.

They have scored 29 tries and conceded just four – that’s an average of more than seven-tries-to-one per game for the Bulls. Even without the Reds game they average more than five tries a match in the last month.

In the same period the Crusaders underwent a slump – losing their last two matches, scoring just 91 points (an average of just under 23 points per match) and managed just nine tries.

Mauger feel the Crusaders need to try and “quieten” the Bulls’ rampant style.

He didn’t think the Bulls jaunt against the hapless Reds would have taken an edge of the intensity off the Bulls, saying they will be determined to maintain their rage.

“When you’re scoring tries and running off each other like that, it doesn’t matter who the opposition is,” Mauger told NZPA.

“You get a lot of confidence from the guys around you and they’ll be riding that wave at the moment.

“Somehow we’ve got to try to stop that momentum.”

The other major factor, according to Mauger, that the Crusaders have to deal with is the fanatical Loftus Versfeld crowd, with the masses of Bulls supporters in blue capable of lifting the team.

In fact Mauger suggested the Crusaders may enjoy playing in front of a packed stadium, with the 50,000seater Loftus already a sell-out.

The Crusaders number 12, Mauger, couldn’t resist a dig at the growing apathy of Christchurch crowds.

He said in a perverse way, his team relished the challenge of playing in one of the most intimidating venues in world rugby.

“Let’s face it, if we played at Jade, we probably wouldn’t even get a sellout crowd, that’s how spoiled they’ve been over the past few years,” Mauger told NZPA.

“At least here we’ll get to play in front of 50,000 people. It’ll be quite exciting for everyone involved.

“It’s something none of us have ever done before, play a semifinal over here.

“There’s a good buzz around the group, it’s something different and I’m sure we won’t need any extra motivation.”

The Crusaders were all set to host their eighth home semi-final before the Bulls pulled off their astonishing 92-3 defeat of the Reds to claim second-place hosting rights on points differential.

 

365 Digital

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