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Bulls welcome back duo

10th April 2013 11:35

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Akona Ndungane

Back in blue: Akona Ndungane

The Bulls have been bolstered by the return of two experienced campaigners, with Akona Ndungane and Flip van der Merwe back in the starting line-up.

Ndungane has recovered from the eye socket injury sustained against the Crusaders four weeks ago, while Van der Merwe, who picked up a chest muscle injury in the same Christchurch clash, also returns.

They replace the injured Zane Kirchner and Paul Willemse respectively, with Jürgen Visser taking over at full-back and Willemse moving to the bench.

Bulls coach Frans Ludeke also made a tactical switch from the side that suffered a last-gasp defeat against the Brumbies two weeks ago, with Frik Kirsten starting at tighthead and veteran prop Werner Kruger playing off the bench.

"We are happy with the squad rotation and with a couple of stalwarts still out injured, has given some of our youngsters good opportunities to play," said Ludeke.

"We feel that we left some points on the road, but now have a good stretch back home where we play ourselves back into those important play-off positions.

"The rest did wonders to all and I am pleased with the way we prepared for this one." The match could also see a first Bulls appearance for scrum-half Rudy Paige and utility back Ulrich Beyers, while Lions loan player Callie Visagie has been drafted in to give Willie Wepener a rest.

With Francois Hougaard still nursing an ankle injury, Paige will back-up Jano Vermaak and Beyers will replace a sore Francois Venter as a backs replacement.

Bulls captain Pierre Spies admitted that it will be good playing in front of their home support again.

"We will certainly need all the support we can get against a Cheetahs side that is playing with a lot of confidence and momentum.

"History counts for nothing in this one, so past performances will have no bearing on this clash.

"We will have to front up from the first minute of play to the last. The Cheetahs play for 80 minutes and we need to make sure we play our style and on our terms."

Bulls: 15 Jürgen Visser, 14 Akona Ndungane, 13 JJ Engelbrecht, 12 Jan Serfontein, 11 Lionel Mapoe, 10 Morné Steyn, 9 Jano Vermaak, 8 Pierre Spies (c), 7 Dewald Potgieter, 6 Deon Stegmann, 5 Juandré Kruger, 4 Flip van der Merwe, 3 Frik Kirsten, 2 Chiliboy Ralepelle, 1 Morné Mellet.

Replacements: 16 Callie Visagie, 17 Werner Kruger, 18 Paul Willemse, 20 Arno Botha, 21 Rudy Paige, 22 Louis Fouchè, 23 Ulrich Beyers.

Date: Saturday, 13 April
Venue: Loftus Versfeld
Venue: 19:10 (17:10 GMT)
Referee: Jason Jaftha (South Africa)
Assistant referees: Rasta Rasivhenge (South Africa), Sieg van Staden (South Africa)
Television match official: Gerrie Coetzee (South Africa)

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