The Blue Bulls are looking to get back to winning ways when they host the Golden Lions in the Jukskei Derby this weekend.
The Pretoria side currently sit at fifth after winning two games and losing two but a win against the Lions would give them a real boost up the table.
The Lions are just above the Blue Bulls at fourth place with one point more, so they will have to win the derby in order to prevent their Northern neighbours leap-frogging them.
Blue Bulls coach Nollis Marais is confident the aura of Loftus will give his side the edge.
“We are back at Loftus Versfeld, so have no excuses,” said Marais.
“We play our best rugby here and enjoy massive support.
“The Golden Lions fans will remind us that we lost here last time we played and that is a good dose of reality. We have not been at our best and still need to play for this season.
“This is an ideal opportunity to do it against the defending champions. We could not ask for a bigger challenge.”
The Blue Bulls have had to make some forced changes with Pierre Schoeman will start in the number one jersey ahead of Lizo Gqoboka. Hanro Liebenberg starts at eight for the injured Jannes Kirsten. Arno Botha moves to blindside flank. Roelof Smit will provide loose-forward cover from the reserves.
The Lions coaching staff have made a few changes to their side. Olympian Kwagga Smith is back from the Sevens while star Super Rugby centre Rohan Janse van Rensburg will start at outside centre.
Last time these teams met: The Golden Lions ran in five tries to two as they eased to a solid 38-17 win over the Blue Bulls in their provincial tournament match at the Alberton Rugby Club on Saturday. Lions’ flyhalf Shaun Reynolds ended with 11 points courtesy of four conversions and a penalty while the tries were shared around with five different men scoring for the hosts.
Prediction: The Bulls are always strong at home but the Lions have an impeccable team. Lions by five.
Blue Bulls: 15 Duncan Matthews, 14 Travis Ismaiel, 13 Dries Swanepoel, 12 Burger Odendaal, 11 Jamba Ulengo, 10 Tian Schoeman, 9 Piet van Zyl, 8 Hanro Liebenberg, 7 Arno Botha (c), 6 Ruan Steenkamp, 5 Marvin Orie, 4 RG Snyman, 3 Jacobie Adriaanse, 2 Jaco Visagie, 1 Pierre Schoeman
Replacements: 16 Bandise Maku, 17 Martin Dreyer, 18 Nic de Jager, 19 Roelof Smit, 20 Andre Warner, 21 Joshua Stander, 22 Ulrich Beyers
Golden Lions: 15 Andries Coetzee, 14 Courtnall Skosan, 13 Rohan Janse van Rensburg, 12 Howard Mnisi, 11 Anthony Volmink, 10 Marnitz Boshoff, 9 Ross Cronje (c), 8 Ruan Ackermann, 7 Cyle Brink, 6 Kwagga Smith, 5 Lourens Erasmus, 4 Martin Muller, 3 Jacques van Rooyen, 2 Robbie Coetzee, 1 Dylan Smith
Replacements: 16 Armand van der Merwe, 17 Corné Fourie, 18 Victor Sekekete, 19 Fabian Booysen, 20 Dillon Smit, 21 Jaco van der Walt, 22 Jacques Nel
Date: Friday, September 2
Venue: Loftus Versfeld, Pretoria
Kick-off: 19:00 local (17:00 GMT)
Referee: Craig Joubert
Assistant referees: Francois Pretorius, Jaco Pretorius
TMO: Johan Greeff