MacDonald predicts tight encounter in final

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It will complete four seasons developing the team to the point where it won its first title since 2003 when claiming Super Rugby Trans-Tasman last year. But that was never seen as the true Super Rugby title.

 

The Crusaders took that earlier in the season as they secured their fifth consecutive title.

 

On Saturday, the Blues will contest their fifth final, their third against the Crusaders. Their record is: played four, won three, while the Crusaders will be contesting their 16th final, 11 of which they have won.

 

MacDonald predicted: "It will be a tighter game, it won't be an open game. If there's two tries apiece that's probably about it. You're not going to see five or six tries, your defence has got to be right on," he said.

 

MacDonald said it was hard to hide from the tensions associated with playing the final. There was a lot of hype wherever in the city he went, with well-wishers passing on their thoughts. It is the Crusaders and the first time the Blues have been in a big final for a long time.

 

"We're embracing it, we're enjoying it. It is our last week together, it's our last training run today and we're trying to enjoy this week as much as we can," he said.

 

MacDonald said it was great to have a sold-out stadium. The crowd was supportive, and there would be an atmosphere to match as two good teams who liked to move the ball were playing with a lot of firepower across the park.

While he had enjoyed coaching the Crusaders, he had also enjoyed living in Auckland and working with the Blues.

 

"It's been a great year, I've enjoyed it and to have a final against the Crusaders is very exciting, I can't wait, I'm looking forward to it," he said.

 

The Blues would take confidence into the final from what they had achieved during the year, including beating the Crusaders at home.

 

"We don't expect to do anything that we haven't already done at some point this year. We've shown at times we can be dogged on defence and show a lot of heart there and be physical. And on attack, when we get things right, we are hard to contain," he said.

 

Discipline would continue to be required.

 

"We talk about it at every training, every day, every week we practise so it's going to be a factor and we're hoping it's not us," he said.

 

"They're two very good teams and there is going to be something that splits them whether it's a play, or a moment and our job is to make sure that when that moment happens that we're the ones that grab it and that's what we're aiming for," he said.