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Spies backs Bulls to handle Crusaders pressure

Bulls captain Pierre Spies backs his team to beat the Crusaders

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Article Published: Thursday 19 July 2012|

Bulls captain Pierre Spies says that they are well aware of the size of task they face against the Crusaders but he is still backing his team to progress to the Super Rugby Semi-finals.

The tables have been turned on the Bulls this week as the Crusaders are at home in Christchurch instead of the Bulls who have had home advantage in three Super Rugby finals matches since 2007.

"Quarterfinal rugby is about how you handle pressure and how you exude pressure," Spies said on Wednesday.

"It is obviously a challenge to play the Crusaders at home but we are looking past that."

The last encounter between the two sides was a battle of attrition, with the Bulls narrowly edging the Crusaders 32-30 at Loftus Versfeld.

A small storm, however, erupted afterwards over two eye-gouging allegations were made against the Crusaders.

The claims have since been refuted and the Bulls were adamant this week they had buried the hatchet.

There was also a storm over the match officials as Assistant Referee Pro Legoete incorrectly called the Crusaders back for obstruction as they were on their way to scoring what could have been a match winning try.

"We've already played against them this year and it will be a tough game," Spies said, "but we are backing ourselves."

Meanwhile, lock Flip van der Merwe returns from injury in the only change to the Bulls team.

Van der Merwe, who has recovered from a hip injury that saw him miss last week's 37-20 victory over the Lions, replaces Wilhelm Steenkamp in the second row.

Steenkamp drops to the bench and CJ stander falls out the match 22.

Spies said the return of a seasoned player like Van der Merwe gave his side a timely boost ahead of the crunch clash.

"You have to use every bit of experience and the players who have it must bring it to the fore," he said.

"It is important that it counts in your favour on the day.

"We have enough experience in the team and it is a great challenge to us as a group."

Bulls coach Frans Ludeke said his players were aware of the extent of the challenge they faced against one of Super Rugby's most successful sides.

"They are a good team, we respect them and we know their ability," Ludeke said.

"They have shown throughout the year on a number of occasions that if you allow them to get momentum they can make it difficult for you."

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