Highlanders bracing for Bulls backlash



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Highlanders rugby coach Glenn Moore is bracing his team for a particularly hostile reception in Pretoria as they meet the 2007 Super 14 champions at Loftus.

Moore is concerned about a backlash from the Bulls after they were thumped 22-50 by the Hurricanes last weekend.

It’s been a disappointing time for the Bulls this season and the Hurricanes thrashing has them in 13th place with just 10 points from 9 matches.

The Highlanders who came 9th last year in the Super 14 are currently in a better position than the Bulls with 11 points and are just two places ahead of them.

Moore suspects that the Hurricanes will have done the Highlanders no favours in that they will put in a particularly physical challenge this weekend to save face in front of their home fans.

“I’ve told the guys already that they will be going into a very hostile environment against the Bulls,” Moore told NZPA today from Durban.

“They might like you afterwards but they certainly don’t beforehand.

“The Bulls themselves will be very desperate and we will be up against a team who will be very fired up.

“They are struggling at the moment and coming off the back of quite a thumping against the Hurricanes.”

Moore said that the Highlanders had to stay tight as a group and stay composed.

“There’s only one way to shut them (crowd) up and that’s to play well and try and get on top of them.”

Moore added that the Highlanders coaching staff had slightly tweaked the team’s game plan this week to make allowance for the physical confrontation they were expecting.

“We’ve made some subtle changes to how we may do things.

“It’s important for us that we don’t try and get into a crash bang fest with them. Our focus will be on having ball in hand and attacking.

“We know they’ve generally got a formidable forward pack and that they like to get involved in the physical encounter of the game.

“We also know if you can dominate and start penetrating that they can to get a bit frustrated as well.”

The Bulls could be a little different this weekend as they have lost regular captain Fourie du Preez (hand Injury) and he will is expected to replaced by Wikus van Heerden who was the Cats captain under the Bulls coach Frans Ludeke when they were both with the Cats.

The Bulls have leaked the most tries (36) and scored the least (16) in the competition while their ill discipline has cost them also, with nine of their players having spent time in the sinbin.




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