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Derby has Hurricanes and Crusaders buzzing

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 8/05/2017

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Both the Hurricanes and Crusaders admit a different mindset is needed as they brace for the demands of a high-stakes New Zealand derby in Christchurch.

The two most dominant teams in Super Rugby this season square off on Saturday and say a mental shift is required after a series of lop-sided wins against offshore opposition.

Unbeaten through 10 rounds, the Crusaders have averaged more than 50 points per game in their last six, including the 62-24 drubbing of the Bulls in Pretoria over the weekend.

That streak hasn't included a Kiwi opponent.

Israel Dagg of the Crusaders and Dane Coles of the Hurricanes enjoy a laugh during the Super Rugby pre-season match © Hagen Hopkins/Getty Images Israel Dagg of the Crusaders and Dane Coles of the Hurricanes enjoy a laugh during the Super Rugby pre-season match Wins earlier in the season over the Highlanders (30-27) and Blues (33-24) required dramatic Crusaders fightbacks after having ceded a sizeable lead.

The Hurricanes' one loss from nine games was to the Chiefs in week three.

With All Blacks first five-eighth Beauden Barrett conducting an attacking tour de force, the defending champions have powered in for 63 tries overall.

Hurricanes assistant coach Jason Holland admits it all changes this week against a confident Crusaders side who have surprised him with their wide attack in 2017.

"In all these New Zealand derbies, you can feel the boys drive the intensity a little bit more than the coaches," Holland said.

"It's great to be playing them because they're on top of the table and we're not far behind.

"Attack-wise they're pretty accurate in what they're doing at the moment. They've got a lot of threats but the first thing we have to attack is their set piece."

After three successive romps against struggling South African outfits, Crusaders coach Scott Robertson expects the Hurricanes to be on a different tier.

The biggest difference will be at the end of the game, when the Crusaders have become used to piling on points.

"The Bulls clearly struggled with the tempo, with how quickly we could play," Robertson said.

"For me, really clearly, the South African teams need to be fitter.

"Super Rugby's a fast game, it's a game with a high skill level. You make errors when you're fatigued."

Neither team have emerged with any fresh injuries from the weekend.

Holland said Hurricanes skipper Dane Coles did nothing over the weekend so had no update on the Test hooker's recovery from a head knock and a calf tear.

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