Crusaders ready to lock horns with the Bulls
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Wyatt Crockett hasn't been fooled by the Bulls' unexpected flamboyance at Eden Park.
Although the Bulls' perky backline lashed the Blues during Sunday's 28-21 win in Auckland, Crusaders loosehead prop Crockett predicts the South Africans' game-plan will rely on traditional Afrikaner forward power on Saturday night.
A heady lineout, clinical scrum and rolling mauls are likely to form the major planks of captain Pierre Spies' battle plan, with his backs only given licence to run when inside the Crusaders' half at AMI Stadium.
Despite losses to the Hurricanes and Blues, the Crusaders are satisfied with their set pieces but extra work will be required on negating the Bulls' rolling mauls.
"They were a bit more expansive than what we are probably used to against the Blues but we know they are going to be running hard with their big ball carriers and will no doubt have a big emphasis on their lineout and drives," Crockett said.
"We know a lot about what they will do but it is another thing to stop it. I'm sure we will focus on (the Bulls rolling maul) at practice this week."
Although some coaches consider the maul as little more than legalised obstruction - and stopping it can at times result in a dangerous game of predicating the referee's interpretations - Crusaders forwards coach Dave Hewett stated the best way to stop the Bulls setting their drive was to compete on their lineout throws.
Good technique, in addition to contesting the Bulls' lineouts, should also ensure their forwards are not split during the drives.
"We always compete on opposition throws. I'm sure the Blues tried that but it didn't work for them. We just have to have a rethink and see what we can do."
Crockett will also hope to receive a better deal from the referee, who has yet to be confirmed, after Australian Andrew Lees got several decisions wrong when he penalised the prop in the scrums during last weekend's 29-28 loss to the Hurricanes.
On one occasion Hurricanes tighthead Jeff Toomaga-Allen appeared to illegally tug Crockett's arm and on another he was incorrectly pinged for having his hand on the ground.
"I got a couple of penalties that I was a little bit annoyed about," Crockett said. "It was a bit disappointing but we know we have got a very good scrum."
Crusaders fans will also be denied the chance to welcome Springboks loosehead prop Deon Greyling to New Zealand for the first time since he ploughed his elbow into the face of All Blacks captain Richie McCaw during last year's test in Dunedin.
Greyling, who was suspended for two weeks after his flying forearm-jolt, has been ruled out of the Bulls' tour of New Zealand because of an ankle injury.
Crockett admitted he didn't know Greyling well.
"But it was a bit surprising what he did. It didn't look great on the footage, that particular shot. They are big, aggressive men and sometimes you make rash decisions in the heat of the moment, I suppose."
- © Fairfax NZ News
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