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Fiji Time: 5:38 AM on Wednesday 23 July

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Chiefs return refreshed to hunt Bulls

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Friday, May 25, 2012

AUCKLAND - New Zealand conference leaders the Chiefs resume their Super Rugby campaign tonight refreshed by a bye that skipper Craig Clarke says came at the right time.

"We needed that after seven games on the trot," Clarke said.

"We had a lot of rugby and pretty intense rugby at that. It's good to have the time off and get refreshed mentally and physically."

The Chiefs face fellow high-flyers the Bulls in Hamilton, with both sides backing up from defeats.

The South Africans were upset 16-11 by the Highlanders last weekend, a result that dislodged them from the top of the table.

The Chiefs went down 42-27 to the Queensland Reds to end a nine-match winning streak, but the four points they got for the bye has them sitting second on the ladder.

Clarke identified two particular areas that the Chiefs wanted to improve on after their defeat in Brisbane.

One was their defence in the middle, and he highlighted the try scored by Scott Higginbotham around the fringes of a ruck early in the second half during a period in which the Reds turned the match on its head.

The other was being more effective in countering an opposition lineout drive.

It was a tactic the Reds, as well as the Lions the week before, used against them to good effect, and one the Bulls were sure to employ.

"We know what's coming with the Bulls there. It's a huge platform for them. They play a lot of their football off that."

As for what lessons the Chiefs could take out of the Highlanders' win over the Bulls in Dunedin, Clarke pointed to the home side's physical approach up front.

"It was just the attitude the Highlanders brought in terms of their physicality.

"It's something we're going to have to bring," Clarke said.


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