Super Rugby 2018: Crusaders v Bulls Preview

Super Rugby 2018: Crusaders v Bulls Preview

The Crusaders will be looking to bounce back from two successive defeats when they host the Bulls on Friday the 23rd of March.

The reigning champions have their backs against the wall having lost their last two fixtures, with both of the defeats coming at the hands of local opposition. The Bulls also head into this one off the back of a defeat to a New Zealand side as they let a substantial half-time lead slip to go down to the Chiefs last Friday.

Crusaders v Bulls
Friday 23 March
AMI Stadium

To Win (80 Mins)
Crusaders 1/20
Draw 33/1
Bulls 7/1

Crusaders (-20.5) 9/10
Bulls (+20.5) 9/10

The Crusaders have endured a tough old fortnight with injuries to key midfield personnel significantly weakening the reigning champions potency on both attack and defence. The absence of fly-half, Riche Mounga, has destabilized what was an extremely composed back division, while Ryan Crotty's injury has only added to their woes.

Scott Robertson will be rather relieved to be facing foreign opposition rather than another local rival as his side's midfield deficiencies were exposed by both the Hurricanes and the Highlanders. The Bulls have it in them to cause the Crusaders midfield problems, but they aren't likely to be able to keep the pressure up for the full 80 minutes, as was evident in the final quarter of their game against the Chiefs last Friday.

John Mitchell would have laid into his chargers after they let a 14-point halftime lead slip to go down 28-41. What would have made Mitchell even more irate is the fact that it was the second week running that his side let a commanding lead slip, having gone down to the Reds seven days earlier despite holding an 11 point half-time advantage.

The Bulls have failed to score a second-half point for two games running now, which is an extremely worrying statistic as they take on a Crusaders side who generally up the ante come the final quarter of a game.

Verdict: Bulls (+20.5) 9/10 
I fully expect the Crusaders to win this one with a late second-half blitz but I think the Bulls won't go down by more than the current 9/10 handicap on offer. It's simply to big a 'cap for a side that has actually produced some good rugby this year.

Written by Darry Worthington for

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