Champions take on champions in Brisbane

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Back on home soil, the Reds face a tough battle to turn their game around after their opening loss to the Highlanders. The Crusaders have their reasons to improve after being within a missed conversion of drawing their game with the Brumbies in Christchurch.


The late run home by the beaten Australian finalists stung the Crusaders, who now face the task of regaining their best touch at the tough place to win, Suncorp Stadium.


Assistant coach Tamati Ellison said: "With 10 minutes left we probably thought we were in control there, but we'll learn from that and make sure we control the tempo of the game if we're in that position again," he said.


They expected the Reds would be looking to improve their set-piece and to be tough in contact, as the Brumbies had been.


"They [the Reds] looked pretty frustrated after their game down in Dunedin, to come from a final, and then to a low there, so we expect much of the same [as from the Brumbies], they'll be physical.


"We've just got to make sure we're clear on our roles and master what we're doing on the field and we should be OK," he said.



Travelling over to Brisbane would be refreshing for the players. Getting into a different environment and adapting to a different routine would be good for the side.


Having been exposed to the Australian style of preparation during his playing career, Ellison said one of the first things he noticed was they tended to swear more, but they trained harder than New Zealand sides.


He said when he played with the Rebels, they trained next to the Storm NRL side, and he wondered if they were trying to keep up with them.


"They play a different style, shorter passing, probably a throw back to the Ellas and how their game has developed. They haven't had a Stephen Larkham there for a while, so shorter rugby, almost like rugby league but tough in contact. So, that's something we'll realise more and more in the next few weeks," he said.


Defensively, they didn't fill the field as much as New Zealand sides, but they remained physical in contact.


"When they hit you, you definitely feel it," he said.


The key to dealing with the differences was to ensure the Crusaders mastered their systems and could handle the necessary variations as they were required.


The Crusaders take on the Reds in Brisbane at 9.45pm (NZT) Saturday live on Sky Sport NZ and Stan in Australia. 


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