The Cheetahs will be fired to build on what has been a solid start to the 2015 Vodacom Super Rugby season while the Bulls will hope to achieve another win after securing a first victory of the season last week. The Bulls defeated the Cell C Sharks at Loftus while the Free State franchise remain unbeaten so far. The clash on Saturday at the Free State Stadium kicks off an 17:05 and will be refereed by Stuart Berry.
For the Toyota Cheetahs Boom Prinsloo moves from the bench and will start at flank, with Jean Cook moving to eighthman with Willie Britz out injured. Steven Sykes, who has played 84 Super Rugby matches for the Sharks and Southern Kings between 2007 and 2013, could make his Cheetahs debut off the bench. Meanwhile the Bulls starting XV is unchanged from last weekend. The only change is on the bench, with Piet Van Zyl coming in for Travis Ismaiel.
Naka Drotske’s side broke a nine year losing drought in the corresponding fixture last year when they beat the Bulls 15-9. Last year’s encounter in Bloemfontein was the first try-less match ever between these two sides. The Pretoria franchise averages 33 points against the Bloemfontein franchise and this is the highest by any South African team against Drotske’s men. Frans Ludeke’s team has scored four or more tries on four out of their seven visits to Bloemfontein, while the Cheetahs have never recorded a try-scoring bonus-point at home against the team from Pretoria.
Drotske says: ‘The Bulls have a quality side. They have a couple of Springboks in their team and they’ve been unlucky in one or two games at Loftus. We’ve always expected that they will bounce back and it will be tough. When you play against the Bulls you have to match their physicality if you want to beat them. It’s not going to be easy, but we have a lot of confidence coming off two wins and it is a South African derby so it will always be tough. The players are playing for places in the World Cup squad so we expect it to be a very tough game.’
Bulls boss Frans Ludeke says: ‘We finally found the momentum we were looking for in the opening rounds of the competition against the Sharks and managed four tries. We will need the confidence and rhythm picked up on the weekend against the Cheetahs. They are one of the early front runners and will be full of self-belief.’ Captain Pierre Spies added: ‘We did front up last weekend and for the first time this season, managed to finish when we created try-scoring opportunities. Training was much easier this week as the belief came back. We had a good week and are again looking for a good result. It will not be easy. They won in Bloem last year, something we need to change.”
The teams are:
Cheetahs: Willie Le Roux, Cornal Hendricks, Francois Venter, Michael Van Der Spuy, Raymond Rhule, Joe Pietersen, Sarel Pretorius, Jean Cook, Oupa Mohoje, Boom Prinsloo, Francois Uys (captain), Carl Wegner, Coenie Oosthuizen, Torsten Van Jaarsveld, Danie Mienie.
Replacements: Stephan Coetzee, BG Uys, Maks Van Dyk, Tienie Burger, Steven Sykes, Tian Meyer, Willie Du Plessis, Johann Sadie.
Bulls: Jesse Kriel, Bjorn Basson, JJ Engelbrecht, Jan Serfontein, Francois Hougaard, Handré Pollard, Rudy Paige, Pierre Spies (captain), Lappies Labuschagne, Deon Stegmann, Victor Matfield, Jacques Du Plessis, Trevor Nyakane, Adriaan Strauss, Morné Mellett.
Replacements: Callie Visagie, Dean Greyling, Marcel Van Der Merwe, Grant Hattingh, Hanro Liebenberg, Piet Van Zyl, Tian Schoeman, Jurgen Visser