Crusaders relish Bulls battle before semi
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Andy Ellis reckons his Crusaders have enjoyed the better preparation ahead of their Super Rugby semi-final against the Chiefs in Hamilton.
The experienced halfback says his side have the momentum heading into Friday’s match following an emphatic 28-13 defeat of the Bulls in the first round of the playoffs on Saturday.
That contrasts with the Chiefs who were were handed a bye due to their second-placed ranking, along with the table-topping Stormers.
Ellis says having a week off wouldn’t be his preference and believes the extra match will prove a bonus despite facing just a six-day turnaround.
“We like playing right through,” Ellis told NZ Newswire.
“Playoff footy is such a special thing, it’s a different style of rugby. We learned some things from the Bulls game which we can take with us for the Chiefs.”
The title-less Chiefs have been in the playoffs just twice before, while the seven-time champion Crusaders have visited the knockout stage 13 times, having last missed out in 2001.
Ellis believed the Crusaders were in better shape than last year when they lost to the Reds in the final.
That Brisbane match was the last of an epic campaign that saw them play every match away from their Christchurch home base due to the damage caused by earthquakes.
“Last year was tough with all the travel,” said Ellis.
“Although you like to think it doesn’t affect you, in the long run it did.”
A veteran of 26 All Blacks Tests, Ellis said fatigue wouldn’t be a factor this time due to the recent three-week break for the test window.
“It was good for most of us to get away from footy for a while and almost get excited again,” Ellis said.
Both teams will be named on Wednesday, with the Crusaders still likely to be without world class No.8 Kieran Read.
Coach Todd Blackadder said Read was struggling to recover from a rib injury.© AAP 2013
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