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Good start crucial for both teams

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Thursday, August 2, 2018    Lynn McConnell    Getty Images

None was more obvious than when the Crusaders were down 29-0 to the Waratahs while last week the Lions had to come back from 0-14 down against the Waratahs in their semifinal.

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In last year's final, the Crusaders had made a good start and had been able to hang on at the end because it was difficult playing at altitude. It would be different again this year in Christchurch but a good start was important in any final, Robertson said.

"They're extremely dangerous. You can see that once they get on a roll how potent they are. When they are allowed to play to their strengths teams have battled against them so they are deserved finalists.

"They've got classy players and they're on tour," he said.

Robertson said the Crusaders recalled how they felt when they went to Johannesburg against the home team who were favourites but they had been able to get the job done.

"So we're ready for everything and we understand what passion they will bring and hurt is a great driver and motivator from last year," he said.

Robertson said the choice of Heiden Bedwell-Curtis ahead of Pete Samu to replace the unfortunate Jordan Taufua on the blindside flank was one of the tough decisions.

Every time Bedwell-Curtis had played for the side he had been outstanding while Samu was exceptional off the bench for the side with the ability to change up the pace of the game.

"So we've kept the continuity and his ability to come on and play all three positions and add to the end of the game," he said.
They had bracketed Sam Anderson-Heather at hooker with Andrew Makalio, who had made a remarkable recovery from injury and a final decision would be made at Friday's Captain's Run.

Preparation throughout the season had been behind the side's successful run, Robertson said and they had another good week leading up to the final.

The Lions had a strong forward pack. Flanker Kwagga Smith was an exceptional player who Robertson knew from his time with the Barbarians in England last year.

And hooker Malcolm Marx was one of the best players in the world and the Crusaders were well aware of the quality the Lions had across the field and they had respected that in their preparation for the game.

Captain Sam Whitelock said the side had been fortunate in having some veterans from the last successful home final in 2008, Wyatt Crockett, Kieran Read and Tim Bateman who were able to tell them some of the stories of that occasion and they had taken their points on board.

"It's great to be at home, and for the last few weeks. It makes it easier. We've had to earn the right to be at home," he said.