Read prepared for close clash
Crusaders captain Kieran Read expects another titanic struggle when his side take on the Reds in Christchurch on Saturday.
Matches between these two teams have been evenly contested affairs in recent seasons. Although they did not meet in this year's competition, the Crusaders claimed a narrow 15-11 victory in Christchurch last year.
But the Reds were triumphant on two occasions in 2011. They edged out the seven-times champions 17-16, during the round robin stages, before securing a nail-biting 18-13 win in that year's final.
And Read knows that although they were victorious in 2012, the Reds were unlucky to be on the losing side as they scored the only try of that match.
"You expect close games against top sides and I think we weren't up for that game as we should have been," he told Sportal
The All Blacks number eight believes the Reds will be full of confidence with several players battle-hardened after the recent Test series against the British and Irish Lions.
"They've got some quality players and they're playing some pretty good footy," he added.
"We trained really well this week and have done our homework but having not played them [this season] there's a bit of the unknown."
Read revealed that he enjoys the excitement of knockout rugby and is relishing the prospect of facing the Reds in front of his home supporters.
"I can't wait," he said.
"We love playing here [at home] and it's awesome to have that opportunity of playing finals footy here.
"It's finals time now and we're ready to go."