Perfect script for Super Rugby's decider - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Perfect script for Super Rugby's decider

By Jim Morton 03/07/2011 07:10:12 PM Comments (0)

Next Saturday night's Super Rugby final is guaranteed to have a fairytale ending - the only question is which amazing adventure will win out.

Will it be the competition's Cinderella story, the resurgent Queensland Reds, or the nomadic Crusaders, forced to play away from earthquake-ravaged Christchurch all season, who will cap a remarkable campaign at Brisbane's Suncorp Stadium?

The decider itself is the stuff of dreams, brought about after the Reds blitzed the Blues 30-13 for a maiden play-off win and the Crusaders made a mockery of their travel issues in their Cape Town semi-final.

The Cantabrians became the first team since they themselves beat the Brumbies in the 2000 decider in Canberra to win a play-off on foreign soil by thumping the Stormers 29-10.

If the Reds are Cinderella, turning their rags to riches under Ewen McKenzie after six straight dark years anchored in the bottom three, the Crusaders could be Snow White - still the fairest in the land despite all their trials and tribulations.

Since the devastating February `quake, the seven-time champions have been homeless and forced to make a 100,000km odyssey around the globe.

They have also overcome a quirk of the draw which denied Richie McCaw's men the chance to play the two bottom sides - the Melbourne Rebels and Lions - and were denied the chance for more competition points with a second-round cancellation against the Hurricanes.

Although those factors combined to deny the Crusaders a New Zealand semi-final, they have not complained once and continue to provide enormous inspiration for their fans.

"We're not just playing for ourselves and our team," said hooker Corey Flynn. "We've got a city back home that's broken and needs some fixing and for 80 minutes if we can entertain them and take their minds off real life then that's our job done."

While the Crusaders are homeless, the cash-strapped Reds will host the final at a home ground that was two metres under water in the state's January floods.

"There will be a lot of resolve, from both sides," said McKenzie.

"I don't think the Crusaders have a mortgage on that.

"Their pain and suffering continues. We've obviously got through the worst of our's but there's still a lot of rebuilding.

"It is ironic but it's good we both get to face off."

Their last meeting was an epic encounter, with the Reds triumphing 17-16 through a last-minute penalty goal to superstar Quade Cooper in front of a record crowd of 48,301.

In contrast to having a mental edge from winning that and the previous year's clash, McKenzie believes those results will make the Crusaders even more difficult to topple.

"They're probably more annoyed with the last two results at Suncorp," said the coach, who took the NSW Waratahs to the 2005 and 2008 deciders only to be denied by the Crusaders both times.

"They're just a ruthless side and we saw that (against the Stormers), it was a ruthless display.

"They are big-game performers and I thought they played a brilliant game.

"They've timed their run perfectly and it will make for a great occasion.

"You can hope they have a bad night but you have to be able to beat them at their best and that's the challenge I'm looking forward to."

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