Super Rugby Pacific: Blues coach Leon MacDonald predicts tight affair against Crusaders

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 Credit: PA Images
Credit: PA Images

As someone who won several titles with the Crusaders, Blues boss Leon MacDonald knows that his current team will have to be at their best to beat his former one when they face off in Saturday’s Super Rugby Pacific final at Eden Park.

The Crusaders are the most successful team in Super Rugby history with a record of 11 wins from the 16 finals they have played in while the Blues have won three out of the four finals they have contested.

Expecting a tight battle

With it being a final, MacDonald predicted a closely fought battle with the match set to go down to the wire in Auckland.

“It will be a tighter game, it won’t be an open game,” he said. “If there’s two tries apiece that’s probably about it. You’re not going to see five or six tries, your defence has got to be right on.”

There is plenty of hype around the final and with the Blues hosting it supporters in Auckland are constantly wishing MacDonald and his troops well in the build-up to the game. With the big match also being against their arch rivals MacDonald revealed that it’s difficult to hide the tensions which come with playing in a final.

“We’re embracing it, we’re enjoying it,” he said. “It is our last week together, it’s our last training run today and we’re trying to enjoy this week as much as we can.”

MacDonald is excited by the prospect of playing the final in front of a sold-out crowd. He said the fans are supportive and he expects a thrilling atmosphere which will suit the teams, who both employ expansive game-plans.

Apart from a stellar career as a full-back with the Crusaders, the 44-year-old also had a stint as an assistant coach with the Christchurch-based side and is looking forward to take on his former club in such an important fixture.

“It’s been a great year, I’ve enjoyed it and to have a final against the Crusaders is very exciting, I can’t wait, I’m looking forward to it,” he said.

The Blues are heading into the final in a confident mood as they finished the regular Super Rugby Pacific season in first position in the standings and they also stunned the Crusaders when they beat them in their Round Nine encounter Christchurch.

“We don’t expect to do anything that we haven’t already done at some point this year,” said MacDonald. “We’ve shown at times we can be dogged on defence and show a lot of heart there and be physical. And on attack, when we get things right, we are hard to contain.”

He also highlighted the importance of discipline which could prove a deciding factor on Saturday.

“We talk about it at every training, every day, every week we practise so it’s going to be a factor and we’re hoping it’s not us,” explained MacDonald.

“They’re two very good teams and there is going to be something that splits them whether it’s a play, or a moment and our job is to make sure that when that moment happens that we’re the ones that grab it and that’s what we’re aiming for.”

READ MORE: Super Rugby Pacific final preview: Beauden Barrett-Stephen Perofeta combination to take Blues to the title

 

The article Super Rugby Pacific: Blues coach Leon MacDonald predicts tight affair against Crusaders appeared first on Planetrugby.com.

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