• Preview: Bulls vs Chiefs

    The Bulls will look to end the first phase of their season with a flourish when they host the Chiefs on Saturday.

    Having started poorly with losses to the Sharks and Cheetahs, the Bulls will know that another win before their Australasian tour is vital.

    They will, however, be up against a Chiefs outfit that is hurting from their shock defeat to the Force last week.

    The defending champions subsequently made eight changes to their run-on team with prop Pauliasie Manu, hooker Rhys Marshall, lock Matt Symons, flanker Tanerau Latimer and the formidable No 8 Kane Thompson set to earn starts. Andrew Horrell will be wearing the No 13 jersey in Nanai-Williams's place while the experienced Mils Muliaina reverts back to his preferred fullback position ahead of an inevitable aerial bombardment.

    The Chiefs will also give teenage wing Anton Lienert-Brown his first start while the Bulls have sent their young gun – Sampie Mastriet – back to the Vodacom Cup to accommodate Akona Ndungane.

    With Ndungane back at his post in the only change Frans Ludeke made to his team that last week clinically dismantled the Sharks, the Bulls will be fielding their most experienced side of the season. And if there is one thing the grey beards in the side will bring to the attention of their team-mates, it would be that the Chiefs have not won at Loftus in more than a decade.

    The Chiefs' hope of ending that trend has been made even more difficult due to the early kick-off of the match. Travelling to the highveld is hard enough as visitors usually struggle playing at altitude and with the contest getting underway at 3pm, it becomes even more of a challenge for a side that has just crossed the Indian Ocean to adapt to conditions.

    From their shaky start to the tournament the Bulls seemed to have become a more cohesive unit with combinations starting to settle.

    While the reintroduction of experienced players has been vital to their success, the accuracy of flyhalf Jacques Louis Potgieter's boot has been the biggest blessing the Bulls have received thus far. His kicking from hand, in particular, compliments their age-old game plan although even the pivot would admit that without the ball he is just another number on the field.

    On that front the Bulls loose trio made a huge step-up with the return of another Potgieter – Dewald – at No 8 as he gives the side another option at the all important breakdowns and line-outs.

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

    Chiefs – 15 Mils Muliaina, 14 Anton Lienert-Brown, 13 Andrew Horrell, 12 Tom Marshall, 11 Asaeli Tikoirotuma, 10 Aaron Cruden (c), 9 Tawera Kerr-Barlow, 8 Kane Thompson, 7 Tanerau Latimer, 6 Liam Messam, 5 Brodie Retallick, 4 Matt Symons, 3 Ben Tameifuna, 2 Rhys Marshall, 1 Pauliasi Manu.
    Subs: 16 Mahonri Schwalger, 17 Jamie Mackintosh, 18 Ben Afeaki, 19 Michael Fitzgerald, 20 Sam Cane, 21 Augustine Pulu, 22 Gareth Anscombe, 23 Tim Nanai-Williams.

    Reds vs Stormers preview

    Sharks vs Waratahs preview

    VIDEO: Mark Keohane's predictions for games involving SA sides

    SA Rugby mag team's SuperBru predictions

    Bet on Bulls vs Chiefs

    Post by

    Simon Borchardt