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Preview: Crusaders v Bulls

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Thursday, March 14, 2013    Sportal.co.nz    Getty Images

LAST TIME: Crusaders 28 def Bulls 13, Playoffs, 2012 at AMI Stadium

WALKING WOUNDED: Wing Lionel Mapoe suffered a shoulder injury against the Blues and has been replaced by Jurgen Visser who will make his first start in Super Rugby. Jan Serfontein moves onto the bench. And the Crusaders will start their same XV who went down the Hurricanes with only one change on the bench where Tom Taylor was injured and replaced by Tyler Bleyendaal.

FORM: The Bulls demonstrated their confidence with a deserved first win over the Blues at Eden Park in their last outing. It didn't require any departures from their norm as the home team fell into the trap of forgetting their preparation. The Bulls were able to dominate physically and with No.8 Pierre Spies leading the way impressively they were able to shrug off the fightback of the home team. The Crusaders had the frustration of a late loss against the Hurricanes but looked another step on from the side that lost their opener a week before. Knowing they face a demanding prospect in dealing with a confident Bulls team it is not hard to imagine where the Crusaders focus has been this year.

WE THINK: Desperation produces determination traditionally in Crusaders rugby and that is where the home team find themselves this week. But playing at home for the first time will be a boost. The Bulls will find a tougher, hardened side than the Blues combination they met last week and given the need to get a win on the board, the Crusaders represent a more significant foe. The Bulls know they need to have their defensive effort to its highest level and the prospect is for a classic, near Test-like encounter. For all that, the desperation of the home team is the greater. Crusaders by 7.