In the Newlands spotlight: Don't expect a free-flowing game or try feast when the Stormers and Crusaders go head-to-head in a Super Rugby semifinal on Saturday.
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Crusaders No.8 Kieran Read had no doubt in putting defence at the top of his priority list when asked about the decisive factors in the Newlands showdown.
Speaking at a media scrum in Cape Town on Thursday, Read said the game will not be much different to the arm-wrestle between the two sides at the same venue almost two months ago - a 20-14 league victory by the Crusaders.
"The last game [at Newlands, on May 7] was pretty close to finals footy as well," Read said, adding: "Definitely defence wins these type of games.
"Also the teams who can really finish their opportunities, because there won't be too many ... besides, both teams are pretty good defensively, so we have to make sure we take them they will be few and far between."
He said they would take a "little bit" of confidence from their last outing at Newlands.
"However, the teams have changed dramatically since then and there's been a lot of rugby under the bridge.
"A semifinal is a different ball game as well.
"However, it will be in the back of our minds that we can do it and we can hold out against these guys."
He dismissed the notion that the Crusaders could gain some sort of advantage from the substantial fan club they have in Cape Town.
"Yes, we enjoy playing here, because it is a great test and we do enjoy having a few fans. However, it is the Stormers' home ground and they [the Stormers fans] will definitely be a lot louder."
The star loose forward made no secret of the fact that he felt his team - who have played all their games away from their home ground after the devastating Christchurch earthquake in February - could also overcome this obstacle.
"Our goal is, obviously, still to win the competition," Read said, adding: "The only way we are going o achieve that is by winning this weekend against the Stormers.
"It is going to be a big test for us and we have to make sure we get that right."
He also spoke of the character in the team, which not only saw them overcome an enormous travel factor - they had already clocked up well over 100,000 air miles, but also a crippling injury list.
"That is just the culture the Crusaders have created over a number of years.
"The coaching staff and management have done a really good job of creating that, especially this year it has been a pretty close unit. We expect when someone steps in [after an injury] to really fill that role."
Another aspect that has made the Crusaders a standout team is their ability to put on-field setbacks behind them and continue to play on as if nothing has happened.
He said it is "hugely important" that they never get sucked in by sideshows.
"If your are worried about external factors that you don't really have control over [like bad refereeing calls or the bounce of the ball], it is going to detract from your own performance.
"We just focus on what we can rectify, which is our performance, and getting that right."
Read said the team was "feeling good" and that jet lag was not a problem.
Having had to pass a fitness test this week, after suffering an ankle strain in the 36-8 win over the Sharks last week, Read said he was in good shape.
"I was able to get through quite a bit of training without any problems."
He added that if he was going to make the start of the game, then there's no reason why he should not be able to play the full 80 minutes.
By Jan de Koning
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