James Mortimer 25.Jul.2013Getty Images
The Chiefs won 25-23 in Albany in 1998, their second win against the Crusaders in three attempts, but they would never have known that they had a superior record against a team that would that year capture the first of their eventual seven championships.
From 1999 to 2006 the Crusaders held court with an eight match winning streak between the two rivals from Christchurch and Hamilton, and while some praise has been coming from the red and blacks’ camp about the defending champions and two from three wins in recent clashes, the Chiefs are still wary of the seven time winners of the South’s premier domestic tournament.
The Crusaders haven’t looked this primed towards the finals since, well, maybe 2008 when they won title number seven.
The men from the Waikato know that back-to-back titles would be a stellar way to lay impressive foundations to be talked of as a dynasty, but first they must once again overcome the side that has established the greatest Super Rugby legacy of all.
The champions, who have looked to tone down talk of how impressive the Crusaders have looked, haven’t veered away from the task, with assistant coach Wayne Smith, a man who has an intimate knowledge of certain All Blacks in Canterbury, knows that his current charges will cross paths with the best franchise currently in the competition.