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Crusaders think 'third time lucky'

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Sportal.co.nz     26 Jul 2013     Getty Images

Neither time were the Crusaders put to the sword, but they concede they were outpointed in their 20-17 semi-final loss last year and in the 28-19 defeat in May. That was the Crusaders fifth and last loss of their campaign.

Since then they have strung together five straight wins and were imperious in demolishing the Chiefs, 43-15, in Christchurch on July 5 and again against the Queensland Reds [38-9] in their quarter-final last Saturday.

Such commanding form has the seven-time champions Crusaders favourites against the Chiefs who collected their first Super crown with their 37-6 victory over the Sharks in Hamilton last year.

Not that the Crusaders are trumpeting themselves as the top pick, but they have consigned the 2012 semi-final loss to history.

"We went up there last year and came a bad second," coach Todd Blackadder said after the Crusaders wound down their training on Thursday.

"But that was last year and this is a new team with a new focus and with new goals. We've got a lot of momentum and there's a lot more pride in this team."

Blackadder said the Crusaders were a little out-coached and a little under-prepared at their first meeting this year and it was vice-versa for the rematch earlier this month.

'There's always a strategy, always a battle to be waged tactically. We know we're coming up against a really good team that's really well coached. You can see that in their handiwork across the board."

Blackadder said no specific area of the Chiefs play or any individual had been targeted. "Both teams have been talking all week about getting their set piece right. These games come down to those pressure moments and who best can make those really good decisions."

Although the Crusaders won all nine matches at their home base this season, they have lost five of their games on the road.

"Teams have played well at home and we haven't risen to the challenge at times. I think that was earlier in the season when we weren't playing particularly well.

"That's not going to be in our mind-set this week. It's purely a one-off where you're not there to get bonus points but there to win. Discipline in these games is really as critical as catching the ball."