Highlanders prepare to break down another fortress

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From one growing fortress in Canberra to an even more established one in Christchurch is the challenge for the Highlanders when playing the Crusaders in Investec Super Rugby on Friday.

 

The southerners ended a 10-game home winning streak for the Australians but head to Christchurch Stadium where the Crusaders haven't lost a Super Rugby game in 2016 and 32 games overall.

 

Highlanders assistant coach Clarke Dermody said: "It's another fortress we're going to so we're going up there to show where we are as a team."

 

"They [the Crusaders] are a team that you have got to keep under pressure for 80 minutes. The Chiefs have shown the blueprint there. They didn't give them much room."

 

The Chiefs won because they didn't allow the Crusaders to settle.

 

"It was all legal and they were just playing a physical game. That is the blueprint to beat them but it is just whether you can do that for long enough," he said.

 

Having lost to them twice in Christchurch last year the Highlanders knew what winning took.

 

" What we learned out of those games, [is] you can't have an off moment. They're a team that if you do they will go punish you really quickly.

 

"For us it is respecting how good they are – they're three-time champs so pretty good – but we will go up there and go and throw a few punches as well," he said.

 

The Crusaders had the all-round game that allowed them to switch from one strength to another and having been on the end of the Brumbies rolling maul, which yielded their three tries at the weekend, the Highlanders knew that even if they looked to apply those lessons to the Crusaders it would be a tough ask.

 

"I don't think the Crusaders have had a maul try scored against them in three years," Dermody said.

 

"Potentially, they may give a few penalties away in that area but they have a mentality of not letting them through. But if someone does their job wrong then you suffer," he said.

 

The young Highlanders team had taken a lot of out ending the 10-game winning sequence at home the Brumbies had enjoyed.

 

"It has given us a lot of belief and belief in our game. It has grown the group together."

 

They knew they hadn't played well against the Sharks in their first game and it had been up to the side to try and turn that around.

 

They also benefited from responding to Sio Tomkinson's yellow card. They had lifted in those 10 minutes and had defended well, he said.

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