Hougaard’s role key for Bulls

Francois Hougaard will be looking to impress at scrumhalf when the Bulls face the Force in Perth on Saturday.

Hougaard played on the left wing against the Waratahs last weekend in the absence of Akona Ndungane, but Ndungane's return and the loss of Piet van Zyl to injury sees him back in his preferred position. How Hougaard performs, as far as as his service delivery to the in-form Jacques-Louis Potgieter and box-kicking is concerned, will play a big role in determining whether the Bulls become the first SA side to win overseas this season.

It won't be easy, though. The Bulls lost 26-21 in Perth in 2011, and this time round will be up against a confident Force team that won five matches in a row before losing to the Rebels in Melbourne last weekend.

In other changes to the Bulls' starting line-up, Jürgen Visser returns to fullback, Paul WIllemse comes in for the suspended Flip van der Merwe at No 4 lock and Bongi Mbonambi is given a first start at hooker.

Meanwhile, the Force welcome back lock Sam Wykes who joins Adam Coleman in the second-row. In their only backline change Dane Haylett-Petty shifts to the wing with Jayden Hayward returning to fullback.

Overall: Force 3 Bulls 3
In Perth: Force 2 Bulls 1

Force – 15 Jayden Howard, 14 Dane Haylett-Petty, 13 Marcel Brache, 12 Kyle Godwin, 11 Nick Cummins, 10 Sias Ebersohn, 9 Ian Prior, 8 Ben McCalman, 7 Matt Hodgson (c), 6 Angus Cottrell, 5 Sam Wykes, 4 Adam Coleman, 3 Kieran Longbottom, 2 Nathan Charles, 1 Pekahou Cowan.

Subs: 16 Heath Tessmann, 17 Tetera Faulkner, 18 Oli Hoskins, 19 Wilhelm Steenkamp, 20 Brynard Stander, 21 Justin Turner, 22 Zack Holmes, 23 Chris Tuatara-Morrison.

Bulls – 15 Jürgen Visser, 14 Akona Ndungane, 13 JJ Engelbrecht, 12 Jan Serfontein, 11 Bjorn Basson, 10 Jacques-Louis Potgieter, 9 Francois Hougaard, 8 Grant Hattingh, 7 Jacques du Plessis, 6 Jono Ross, 5 Victor Matfield (c), 4 Paul Willemse, 3 Werner Kruger, 2 Bongi Mbonambi, 1 Dean Greyling.
Subs: 16 Bandise Maku, 17 Morné Mellett, 18 Marcel van der Merwe, 19 Wimpie van der Walt, 20 Jacques Engelbrecht, 21 Rudy Paige, 22 Handré Pollard, 23 Ulrich Beyers.

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