Preview: Pumas v Blue Bulls

Date published: October 8 2015

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The Blue Bulls will be determined to secure a home semi-final when they go head-to-head against the Pumas in Nelspruit on Friday.
 
With this being the final round of the league matches for this year's tournament, the visitors from Pretoria know a win will be enough to secure them second spot on the table and a home semi-final.
 
The Golden Lions – who are still the only unbeaten team in the competition – are currently in first place in the standings with 43 points from nine matches while the Bulls are second with 34 points and Western Province third with 30 points.
 
Although they are sitting in a comfortable position, Blue Bulls coach Nollis Marais is taking nothing for granted.
 
"This is our last match before the play-offs, so we need to confirm the momentum and rhythm we want to take into the knock-out stage," said Marais.
 
"I am happy that we could select a strong team for this match against a very capable opponent," Marais said.
 
"We are probably playing our toughest match of the year. The Pumas at home, on a very hot afternoon, can be a very taxing encounter.
 
"We are going to need great individual performances, but also a massive team effort to bring this one home. We dare not look past this match to the play-offs, as we need to grow as a team and continue our upward curve in the competition."
 
Pumas head coach MJ Mentz has made four alterations to his run-on side after last weekend's exciting 37-37 draw with the Free State Cheetahs in Nelspruit.

There are three personnel changes in the pack with Francois du Toit coming in at hooker where he replaces Frank Herne who shifts to the bench. 

Rudi Mathee takes over from Marius Coetzer at lock, while openside flanker Marnus Schoeman comes in for the injured Jaco Bouwer.

In the backline, Hoffmann Marnitz shifts to full-back as he replaces the injured JW Bell. Jerome Pretorius moves from the wing to outside centre, while Bernado Botha slots in at right wing.

Prediction: Although the Pumas are always competitive at home, the Blue Bulls will have too much firepower. Blue Bulls to win by 10 points!
 
The teams:
 
Pumas: 15 Hoffmann Marnitz, 14 Bernado Botha, 13 Jerome Pretorius, 12 Stefan Watermeyer (captain), 11 Rosco Speckman, 10 Justin van Staden, 9 Faf de Klerk, 8 Jason-Colin Fraser, 7 Uzair Cassiem, 6 Marnus Schoeman, 5 Rudi Mathee, 4 Giant Mtyanda, 3 Vincent Koch, 2 Francois du Toit, 1 Corne Fourie.
Replacements: 16 Frank Herne, 17 De-Jay Terblanché, 18 Marius Coetzer, 19 Dylan Petersen, 20 Reynier van Rooyen, 21 Hennie Skorbinski, 22 Wilmaure Louw
 
Blue Bulls: 15 Warrick Gelant, 14 Travis Ismaiel, 13 Dries Swanepoel, 12 Burger Odendaal, 11 Jamba Ulengo, 10 Tian Schoeman, 9 Francois Hougaard, 8 Arno Botha, 7 Lappies Labuschagne (c), 6 Deon Stegmann, 5 Marvin Orie, 4 Jacques du Plessis, 3 Marcel van der Merwe, 2 Bandise Maku, 1 Pierre Schoeman.
Replacements: 16 Corniel Els, 17 Werner Kruger, 18 RG Snyman, 19 Ruan Steenkamp, 20 Ivan van Zyl, 21 Louis Fouché, 22 William Small-Smith.
 
Date: Friday, October 9
Venue: Mbombela Stadium, Nelspruit
Kick-off: 18:00 (16:00 GMT)
Referee: Rasta Rasivhenge
Assistant referees: Cwengile Jadezweni, Jaco Pretorius
TMO: Willie Vos

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