Planet Rugby

Preview: Bulls v Lions

28th February 2014 02:42

Share:

Marnitz Boshoff Lions Super rugby kick

Red-hot boot: Marnitz Boshoff

Long forgotten are the memories of the Bulls winning the South African conference as they face a high-pressure derby against the Lions.

Instead there is a palpable amount of concern at headquarters in Pretoria as the three-time champions look to avoid their third consecutive defeat when they to host their neighbours at Loftus Versfeld on Saturday.

The Bulls are desperate to return to winning ways and are appreciative of the fact that they have to pull it together against a famished Lions outfit, who marked their return to the big leagues with victories over the Cheetahs and Stormers.

What has made the Lions' solid start so impressive is that no less than 11 players enjoyed their first taste of Super Rugby at the start of the season, while many more new caps are likely to be introduced as the inevitable injuries start taking their toll.

On that front the men from Johannesburg suffered a huge blow in the build-up to the contest as flanker Derrick Minnie has been sidelined after breaking his jaw in an incident involving Schalk Burger the previous week.

The onus of exerting sufficient pressure at the breakdown will now rest on the shoulders of Jaco Kriel, who has yet to disappoint in the number six jersey.

The absence of Alwyn Hollenbach, one the Lions' most experienced backline players, may also have left a void in their midfield although fly-half Marnitz Boshoff has stamped his authority as the team's main decision maker.

The combination of Boshoff's scintillating boot and the team's unprecedented unity in defence has, thus far, compensated for whatever they may lack in experience.

As far as experience is concerned, the Bulls were forced into a situation where they had to reintroduce known leaders into a seemingly bewildered setup.

In another interesting, move Grant Hattingh will start in the injured Pierre Spies' place in the backrow - highlighting the struggles the fetcher-less side is dealing with at the most important facet of play.

To compensate for the tremendous talent drain and injury setbacks the team has been subjected to in recent times, coach Frans Ludeke has handed veteran lock Victor Matfield his beloved number five jersey following two starts from the bench and he also roped-in Jacques-Louis Potgieter, who freshly returned from France.

While Matfield will be out to assert his dominance over newly capped Springbok Franco van der Merwe, Potgieter's mongrel instincts will be tested against Boshoff who was schooled in Bulls rugby prior to his move to Doornfontein.

It will undoubtedly be one of the most important Jukskei derbies in recent Super Rugby history, although for the first time it will be on the traditional winners who will be under the most pressure to deliver a result.

Prediction: There is too much at stake for the home side to let this one slip. Bulls to slug out a six-point win.

The teams:

Bulls:15 Jurgen 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, 4 Flip van der Merwe (captain), 3 Frik Kirsten, 2 Callie Visagie, 1 Dean Greyling
Replacements: 16 Bongi Mbonambi, 17 Werner Kruger, 18 Marcel van der Merwe, 19 Paul Willemse, 20 Jacques Engelbrecht, 21 Piet van Zyl, 22 Handré Pollard, 23 Ulrich Beyers

Lions:15 Chrysander Botha, 14 Deon van Rensburg, 13 JW Jonker , 12 Stefan Watermeyer, 11 Ruan Combrinck, 10 Marnitz Boshoff, 9 Faf de Klerk, 8 Warren Whiteley (captain), 7 Warwick Tecklenburg, 6 Jaco Kriel, 5 Franco van der Merwe, 4 Franco Mostert, 3 Julian Redelinghuys, 2 Robbie Coetzee, 1 Schalk van der Merwe
Replacements: 16 Willie Wepener, 17 Jacques van Rooyen, 18 Ruan Dreyer, 19 MB Lusaseni , 20 Willie Britz, 21. Ross Cronjé, 22 Courtnall Skosan, 23 Coenie van Wyk

Date: Saturday, March 1
Kick-off: 19:10 (17.10 GMT)
Venue: Loftus Versfeld, Pretoria
Referee: Chris Pollock (New Zealand)
Assistant referees: Marius van der Westhuizen (South Africa), Sieg van Staden (South Africa)
Television match official:Johan Greef (South Africa)

Forthcoming Fixtures
FixtureDetails
All times are local
Rugby Championship
Saturday , August 23
New Zealand vs AustraliaNew Zealand vs Australia Preview
Argentina vs South Africa20:40
More Rugby Championship fixtures
Top 14
Friday , August 22
Toulouse vs CastresToulouse vs Castres Preview
Saturday , August 23
Brive vs Clermont Auvergne14:45
Toulon vs La Rochelle18:30
Bordeaux-Begles vs Racing Metro Paris18:30
Montpellier vs Grenoble18:30
Bayonne vs Oyonnax18:30
Stade Francais vs Lyon20:45
More Top 14 fixtures
Currie Cup
Friday , August 22
Pumas vs GriquasPumas vs Griquas Preview
Saturday , August 23
Blue Bulls vs Eastern Province Kings15:00
Western Province vs Lions17:05
Sharks vs Cheetahs19:10
More Currie Cup fixtures
ITM Cup
Friday , August 22
Waikato vs CanterburyWaikato vs Canterbury Preview
Hawkes Bay vs TaranakiHawkes Bay vs Taranaki Preview
Saturday , August 23
Northland vs Wellington14:35
Counties Manukau vs Otago16:35
Sunday , August 24
Manawatu vs Auckland14:35
Bay Of Plenty vs Tasman16:35
Wednesday, August 27
Waikato vs Taranaki19:35
More ITM Cup fixtures
Recent Results
FixtureDetails
All times are local
ITM Cup
Thursday , August 21
North Harbour 21 - 25 Southland
Sunday , August 17
Tasman 35 - 15 Hawkes BayTasman vs Hawkes Bay Report
Northland 23 - 28 Manawatu
More ITM Cup results
Rugby Championship
Saturday , August 16
Australia 12 - 12 New ZealandAustralia vs New Zealand Report
South Africa 13 - 6 ArgentinaSouth Africa vs Argentina Report
More Rugby Championship results
Top 14
Clermont Auvergne 30 - 26 GrenobleClermont Auvergne vs Grenoble Report
Montpellier 16 - 19 Racing Metro ParisMontpellier vs Racing Metro Paris Report
Toulouse 20 - 19 Oyonnax
Bordeaux-Begles 18 - 9 Lyon
Brive 37 - 15 La Rochelle
Castres 22 - 25 Stade Francais
More Top 14 results
Currie Cup
Lions 60 - 19 Eastern Province KingsLions vs Eastern Province Kings Report
Cheetahs 34 - 27 GriquasCheetahs vs Griquas Report
Western Province 41 - 17 Blue BullsWestern Province vs Blue Bulls Report
More Currie Cup results
ITM Cup
Otago 28 - 14 North Harbour
Wellington 25 - 37 WaikatoWellington vs Waikato Report
Canterbury 48 - 9 AucklandCanterbury vs Auckland Report
More ITM Cup results
Top 14
Friday , August 15
Bayonne 15 - 29 ToulonBayonne vs Toulon Report
More Top 14 results
Currie Cup
Sharks 34 - 17 PumasSharks vs Pumas Report
More Currie Cup results
ITM Cup
Southland 34 - 23 Bay Of Plenty
Thursday , August 14
Taranaki 9 - 9 Counties ManukauTaranaki vs Counties Manukau Report
More ITM Cup results
Currie Cup
Saturday , August 9
Griquas 24 - 31 SharksGriquas vs Sharks Report
Pumas 28 - 21 CheetahsPumas vs Cheetahs Report
Lions 41 - 13 Blue BullsLions vs Blue Bulls Report
Friday , August 8
Eastern Province Kings 16 - 35 Western ProvinceEastern Province Kings vs Western Province Report
More Currie Cup results
Aviva Premiership Table
PosTeamPPts
1Bath00
2Exeter00
3Gloucester00
4Harlequins00
5Leicester Tigers00