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Crusaders ready to confront Bulls

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Sportal.co.nz     15 Mar 2013     Getty Images

The Bulls have a forgettable record in previous visits to Christchurch with their only victory coming in 1996, the first year of the Super competition and they were downed 28-13 in the play-offs last year in what was their eighth straight loss in the Garden City.

After getting the monkey of their back by beating the Blues for the first time at Eden Park last week, Crusaders coach Todd Blackadder knows the Bulls will be confident of removing the Christchurch bogey.

Blackadder said he thought the inexperienced Blues might be vulnerable against a seasoned Bulls pack and he expects the South African side to raise the stakes even higher against the Crusaders.

At least the Crusaders knew what to expect and had planned accordingly all training this week, Blackadder said.

"They play a game with a lot of box kicks so we've got to be able to take those high balls and use that ball to counter-attack. They haven't changed their game plan in the last five years and we're not expecting anything different from them.

"All week we've been catching the high balls and we've got a couple of new tackling techniques to try out as they're very direct and push a lot of players straight."

Blackadder said the Crusaders had to lift the physicality of their game to put the Bulls under pressure and also had to show better discipline and ball-maintenance than they had in the 28-22 loss to the Hurricanes a week ago.

"We've got to have a good go at them in the scrums and need to knock over their big ball-carriers. It's been 209 days since we've played at home and I feel we've got a big game building this week. It is always a great challenge when you're playing the Bulls."

The Crusaders remain unchanged from the team which conceded a late intercept try to lose by six points to the Hurricanes last Friday. Five-eighths Tyler Bleyendaal comes into the reserves in place of Tom Taylor, who is likely to miss the next three weeks because of a medial ligament injury.

Crusaders team:

1.Wyatt Crockett, 2.Corey Flynn, 3.Owen Franks, 4.Sam Whitelock, 5.Dominic Bird, 6.George Whitelock, 7.Matt Todd, 8.Kieran Read (c), 9.Andy Ellis, 10.Dan Carter, 11.Johnny McNicholl, 12.Ryan Crotty, 13.Robbie Fruean, 14.Tom Marshall, 15.Israel Dagg.

Reserves: 16.Ben Funnell, 17.Joe Moody, 18.Tom Donnelly, 19.Luke Whitelock, 20.Willi Heinz, 21.Tyler Bleyendaal, 22.Adam Whitelock.