Bulls will copy Sharks to tame mighty Crusaders

Bulls will copy Sharks to tame mighty Crusaders

Handre Pollard during the Super Rugby match between Vodacom Bulls and Reds at Loftus Versfeld on April 13, 2019 in Pretoria, South Africa. (Photo by Lee Warren/Gallo Images)

Yet that’s easier said than done against the defending champions and frontrunners … even at Loftus.

The complete performance that the Bulls have waited such a long time for needs to come on Friday night as they take on the unbeaten defending Super Rugby champions, the Crusaders, at Loftus Versfeld.

With the Sharks showing last weekend in Christchurch that the Crusaders are beatable and with a physical, uncompromising attitude in defence being the way to do it, the Bulls believe that if they play to their strengths and are clinical in their execution then they have a chance against the mighty Cantabrians.

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“We must make a good start because playing catch-up rugby against them is very difficult. Basically we must be perfect. The Sharks did certain things brilliantly against them and were unfortunate to lose, but we know it will be a different Crusaders side with some experienced players coming back. But we are playing at altitude and we take some confidence from what the Sharks did because the Crusaders were looking unstoppable up till then,” Bulls captain Handre Pollard said.

While the Crusaders pack remains unchanged and features All Blacks stars in Kieran Read, Matt Todd, Scott Barrett, Codie Taylor and Joe Moody, the visitors have strengthened their backline by recalling centre Ryan Crotty, flyhalf Richie Mounga and fullback David Havili.

For Bulls coach Pote Human, the returns of hooker Schalk Brits, lock Jason Jenkins and centre Burger Odendaal are especially timely as they are all impact players and stopping the Crusaders’ momentum is going to be vital for the Bulls to compete against the nine-time Super Rugby champions.

“If we can stop their momentum, stop them going forward, then we can stop them playing. But it is easier said than done. We’ve also worked on our finishing because we’ll have to be perfect in terms of taking every chance. The Crusaders can score from anywhere, they’re an unbelievable side with great talent. So we must stop their momentum.

“We’ve taken note of how the Sharks did it, they troubled them in the scrums as well, where we have been good for the last few weeks. But it’s a new referee and a new challenge, and it will be good for Lizo Gqoboka and Trevor Nyakane to test themselves against the best. This is a very important home game against the best in the competition and it would be unbelievable for our self-belief and a big positive for a young team before we go overseas if we can win,” Human said.

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