Loftus looms for ‘Saders

The Crusaders are not getting carried away with their match against the Bulls at Loftus as they embark on a three-match tour, starting with the Western Force on Saturday and followed by the Stormers the following weekend.

Experienced campaigner Leon MacDonald warns that the Crusaders can’t afford to get preoccupied with their Pretoria date with the Bulls if they want to maintain their place at the top of the table during their road trip.

With matches against the bottom-placed Western Force in Perth this weekend followed by the struggling Stormers in Cape Town, it seems everyone is looking at their clash with the Bulls and the last round-robin game at home against the Brumbies on their return to shape the playoffs.

Everyone except the Crusaders that is. If ever there was a time to trot out the old cliche of “one game at a time” this is it, according to wily old fullback MacDonald.

“It’s an interesting trip this one,” MacDonald told XtraMSN Rugby before the red and blacks flew out looking to preserve their nine-match unbeaten run that has them in a commanding position at the top of the Vodacom Super 14 log.

“If we just keep looking at that Pretoria game against the Bulls we will trip up before that. The tricky thing is under-estimating the Stormers at home. They can be dangerous. And again, with Perth as well … the Western Force have nothing to lose and this could turn their season around.

“If they could knock off the Crusaders at home in front of a big crowd, it would make their season. So it’s important we keep focusing on our next game.”

You don’t get too much sympathy out of the Crusaders but you sense a little bit towards the Force as they stumble along in their first season of Super Rugby.

“They play with plenty of passion,” noted MacDonald. “They have found out how tough it is at this level of competition, how it tests the depth of your squad.

“But as I said, they are going to be targeting this game and we have to realise that.”

But, in reality, the game against the Force represents another grand chance for the Crusaders to get even more confidence in their game as they approach the big matches ahead.