Super Rugby 2019: Crusaders are the benchmark - Mark Hammett

The 'Zoo' will be in full voice against the Crusaders.
The 'Zoo' will be in full voice against the Crusaders. Photo credit: Photosport

The Highlanders are under no illusions about what faces them, when the Crusaders visit Dunedin on Saturday night.

The defending Super Rugby champions have won 19 straight games, including four to start their title defence.

Coming off a record 57-28 win over the Chiefs last weekend, the Crusaders look unstoppable and Highlanders assistant coach Mark Hammett acknowledges they face an uphill battle this weekend.

"They are very good - they are the benchmark," Hammett said.

"We are excited for the challenge of coming up against the very best, and that includes the players, coaches and management."

The Highlanders started the season with two wins, but have fallen to the Rebels and Hurricanes in consecutive weekends.

A return to Forsyth Bar Stadium will give the southerners a lift, given their own 15-game unbeaten run.

The Highlanders were the last team to topple the Crusaders 25-17 at the same venue on March 17 last year.

While they take confidence in their home record, Hammett told Newshub the Crusaders are a different beast altogether.

"We are proud of performing at home and doing what we do in front of our crowd," Hammett said.

"The Crusaders are obviously pretty proud of their record away and they are going pretty well at the moment.

"We have to be at our best to keep that rolling."

And to earn a positive result on Saturday night, Hammett has stressed the need for his side to be far more clinical.

The Highlanders let last-quarter leads slip against the Rebels and the Hurricanes, with Hammett particularly scathing of their discipline when the match is on the line.

"We played very well and we were very aggressive, but we have to get the detail right," Hammett said.

"If a ref's calling quickly around what's happening at the ruck, then you have to adjust and we didn't.

"We put ourselves under pressure and we didn't close the game out in the last seven or so minutes.

"If we can nail those little things, then we will win the big games. We just have to be smart."


Join Newshub for live updates of the Highlanders vs Crusaders from 7:30pm Saturday night.

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