Spies looking for Christchurch redemption

MATT MARKHAM
Last updated 05:00 14/03/2013
Pierre Spies
IAIN MCGREGOR/Fairfax NX
CAPTAIN FANTASTIC: Pierre Spies training at Clearwater ahead of the Bulls clash with the Crusaders.

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Revenge isn't a word Pierre Spies would like to use, but the gigantic Bulls captain is pretty keen to eradicate some demons when his side steps out onto AMI Stadium to face the Crusaders on Saturday night.

The South Africans were bashed off the park in their last encounter in Christchurch with the Crusaders in last year's finals qualifiers when beaten 28-13.

It was nothing like the Bulls of old as they blundered and spluttered their way through 80 minutes of schoolboy rugby - aided only by a Crusaders performance which was also well below par.

Spies himself was ordinary in the match, his big frame rendered useless by a Crusaders forward pack which took to their opposition like vultures to a carcass. And the 1.94m giant isn't keen to relive the memory this weekend.

"It was a very ill-disciplined effort last time we played in Christchurch.

"We were very bad at the breakdown and the Crusaders capitalised on the pressure the heaped on us by keeping the scoreboard rolling.

"If we are to win we are going to have to be a whole lot better than what we were the last time we were here and that is going to be a very tough challenge."

Christchurch hasn't been a happy hunting ground for Bulls sides over the years, with their solitary win against the Crusaders on home turf coming in the inaugural year of Super Rugby in 1996. Under the banner of Northern Transvaal they accounted for the Crusaders by way of a 34-18 victory.

Since then it's been a one- way street and the Crusaders have won the next nine matches on home soil.

With the Crusaders out of sorts and in a serious rut early on in the season, you can sense Spies is hungry for the chance to turn around nine years of bad luck when the sides clash on Saturday night at AMI Stadium.

He was impressed with the way his side took apart an up- until-then clinical and brilliant Blues on Sunday afternoon in Auckland. And the comfort of having had over a week in New Zealand to prepare appeals a lot more than a fleeting visit to the city.

Yet Spies refuses to buy into the argument that the red and blacks are now a spent force.

"They are a quality team and a quality franchise.

"You know you are in for a fight when you come up against them; it's what makes them one of the best teams in the competition.

"I thought they went pretty close last week against the Hurricanes - the game could have gone either way.

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"I think it would be unfair and also unwise to even think they are starting to get past their best."

- The Press

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