Pollard will test Cheetahs’ defence

Handré Pollard will give the Bulls a greater attacking edge against the Cheetahs at Loftus on Saturday.

While Jacques-Louis Potgieter has done relatively well for the Bulls this season, he is a limited flyhalf who poses little threat with ball in hand. Pollard, though, tests defences and has a reliable goal-kicking boot. At 21, he is the future of Bulls rugby and giving him his first Super Rugby start at this stage of the season makes sense.

Another 21-year-old, midfielder William Small-Smith, will also make his first run-on appearance in this competition, while Marcel van der Merwe will wear the Bulls' No 3 jersey. The Cheetahs have kept faith with the XV that beat the Stormers last week, with Coenie Oosthuizen, Ligtoring Landman and Johan Goosen set to make their Super Rugby returns off the bench. Goosen's possible head-to-head meeting with Pollard, in the second half, will be one to watch.

A 15-9 win earlier this season saw the Cheetahs end a losing hoodoo against the Bulls going back 11 games, to 2006. Now they are hoping to win at Loftus for the first time in Super Rugby.

The stats tell an interesting story. The Bulls have made fewer metres (332), offloads (5.4), passes (96) and beaten fewer defenders (12.2) per game than any other team in 2014. The Cheetahs have missed more tackles than any other side this year, averaging 22.3 (also a competition high) in their 10 games so far. They have also shipped more points and tries than any other team (average of 34.4 points and 3.9 tries per game) and seen more metres, breaks, defenders beaten and offloads against them than any other outfit.

The Cheetahs will come into this clash with confidence, following their win against the Stormers, but the Bulls have yet to lose at home this season.

Overall: Bulls 12 Cheetahs 9
In Pretoria: Bulls 6 Cheetahs 4
*All Cheetahs wins were as part of Cats franchise

8 – The number of Super Rugby caps he has, all off the bench
26 – The number of points he's scored (one try, three conversions and five penalties)

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

Cheetahs – 15 Hennie Daniller, 14 Raymond Rhule, 13 Johann Sadie, 12 Ryno Benjamin, 11 Willie le Roux, 10 Elgar Watts, 9 Sarel Pretorius, 8 Boom Prinsloo, 7 Jean Cook, 6 Heinrich Brüssow, 5 Francois Uys, 4 Andries Ferreira, 3 Maks van Dyk, 2 Adriaan Strauss (c), 1 Caylib Oosthuizen.
Subs: 16 Torsten van Jaarsveld, 17 Trevor Nyakane, 18 Coenie Oosthuizen, 19 Ligtoring Landman, 20 Teboho Mohoje, 21 Shaun Venter, 22 Johan Goosen, 23 Cornal Hendricks.

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Super Rugby teams (Round 12)

Photo: Marty Melville/AFP Photo

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Simon Borchardt