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Ellis wary of 'physical' Bulls

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Sportal.co.nz     12 Mar 2013     Getty Images

The Bulls have not always been a potent force on the road, but after two wins at home in Pretoria they started their New Zealand leg with a 28-21 win against the Blues - their first ever win at Eden Park.

"That [winless record] would have been talked about," Ellis said at Crusaders training on Monday. "They would know they haven't done that well travelling before so that would be a real focus for them."

The Bulls have a similarly dismal away record against the Crusaders, winning only in the first year of the competition when known as Northern Transvaal, but Ellis believes their confidence will be buoyed by their Auckland ambush.

"They'll be up for it and will be very passionate. There is a great rivalry between the Bulls and the Crusaders [between them they have won 10 Super titles] and they'll bring a lot of excitement and physical power which we haven't come up against yet"

Ellis said the Bulls had some new players with points to prove and they did that against the Blues.

"They played like they were at Loftus. They ran hard and they were intense. They were impressive and scored some exciting tries and are a very clinical and disciplined side."

After losing their first two away matches, the Crusaders know the importance of winning at home and that needs to start against the Bulls.

"We're not too concerned as it's a long competition and you don't want to be playing your best footy yet," Ellis said. "But you've got to be winning and gaining points to be up at the top and we just have to build and get some points on the board."

Ellis said he could not pinpoint why the Crusaders had gained notoriety for being slow starters.

"It is frustrating, but we do learn a lot of lessons from the start of the season. Trends change from year to year and we like to think we can quickly adapt and change our game to the way it is being played."

After a 34-15 drubbing by the Blues in their opening match, Ellis believed the Crusaders had made significant improvements despite losing to the Hurricanes on Friday after coughing up a late intercept try.

He said the intensity and desire had lifted, but the team committed too many errors and conceded too many penalties in the first half.

"We said our goal as a backline was to be an attacking force and we want to score tries. Look at that intercept and our mindset was to attack and while it didn't come off in the end it did serve us well during the game. It's an attitude we're going to continue with."