Highlanders fans urged to help 'repel' expected northern invasion

The Crusaders are invading, so the message to Highlanders fans is to get out and ''repel'' them.

A small army is gathering north of the Waitaki River for a foray into Highlander country on Saturday and those in the South are being urged to take up arms - all in good spirits, of course.

Games come and go in the six-month-long Super 15, but Saturday's match between the Highlanders and the Crusaders on Saturday night shapes as something special.

It is hoped a crowd of about 18,500 will attend the game at Forsyth Barr Stadium. By last night 15,000 tickets had been sold.

The Highlanders are fifth on the competition ladder, with the Crusaders right behind them.

Highlanders general manager Roger Clark said sales had been strong in places such as Queenstown, Oamaru and Invercargill, and 3500 tickets had been sold in Christchurch.

''So we know those Crusaders supporters are going to come down and make themselves heard,'' Clark said.

''We need a whole lot of our fans making a lot of noise, waving blue and gold, to counteract that.

''We have been well supported right through this season and the guys appreciate that support.

''I know the guys really enjoy playing in front of a really loud and boisterous home crowd.''

The game kicks off at 5.35pm and Mr Clark said the earlier-than-normal start helped attract supporters from outside Dunedin, as well as families.

Mr Clark said the big crowd was the cream which would help the Highlanders' bottom line.

The franchise gained income only through sponsorship and gate income, so a big crowd was a welcome financial boost for the franchise, he said.

The Highlanders have released an additional 1000 ''take a kid to the footy'' tickets for the game.

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