Odds stacked against Bulls
Johannesburg - The Bulls will be looking to achieve the almost impossible feat of beating the Crusaders in their own backyard in their Super Rugby playoff in Christchurch on Saturday.
They have not beaten the Crusaders away from home since Northern Transvaal did so in 1996.
The Pretoria-based side, however, do not care much for history and they have demonstrated that they have the ability to rewrite the past.
Bulls coach Frans Ludeke said the team had grown as a unit throughout the year and he felt there was no reason why the team could not go the whole nine yards against the Crusaders.
“There have been highlights and low points and there have been a couple of games where we really felt we did not playing according to our potential,” Ludeke said.
“We would really like to finish the season successfully and we have another chance this weekend.
“We believe the team can do it for us.”
While the Crusaders have been an unsinkable ship at home against the Bulls, the South Africans have had the better of the New Zealanders in playoff matches.
The last time the Crusaders beat the Bulls in a playoff was in Christchurch back in 2006, where they easily won by 35-15, and went on to win the title the next week against the Hurricanes.
The Bulls have since enjoyed the rub of the green on three occasions in 2007, 2009 and 2010 with the matches all played in South Africa.
While the Bulls narrowly won their encounter earlier this year by 32-30, Ludeke felt neither of the teams would go into the match as favourite.
“There isn’t one team that has the edge on another and it will all come down to which team handles the pressure the best,” said Ludeke.
“This is finals rugby and we know how to handle the pressure. We are playing away but we know this is a once-off game and we know what we have to do.
“We know this is the most important game of our season, and we have to have the belief.
"We have made one or two small adjustments to our game, but we are confident going into Saturday’s game.”
Ludeke said his side would have their work cut out for them against a team which was dangerous with the ball in hand.
“The last four of five games they tried to keep the ball in space and up the speed and tempo of the matches,” he said.
“We look forward to the weekend and we’ve worked hard to get to this phase and we will have to make sure we use the opportunity.”