SUPER RUGBY Preview : Bulls vs Lions

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Bulls head coach Nollis Marais made minimal changes to the squad that did battle successfully against the Stormers last week to face the Lions.

Travis Ismaiel was withdrawn from the team due to personal commitments, and will be replaced by Bjorn Basson.

Hooker Bandise Maku also comes in on the bench in place of Jaco Visagie in a straight switch.

Bulls head coach Nollis Marais believes that the Lions are still one of Super Rugby’s best sides despite being without pivot Elton Jantjies.

Jantjies dislocated his finger in the victory over the Jaguares last week which is set to keep him on the sidelines for at least four weeks.

The Bulls are currently atop the Africa One Conference table after they edged the Stormers 17-13 in last week’s top of the table clash at Loftus Versveld.

Marais admits that the Johannesburg outfit are a force to reckoned with and should not be considered a weakened side now that they are without Jantjies.

Johan Ackermann will in all likelihood name Currie Cup fly-half Marnitz Boshoff in the number ten position.

“Elton has been playing well but their side brings so much as well,” Marais told SuperSport.

“Marnitz Boshoff – if they play him, he is an excellent rugby player as well.

“That team doesn’t rely on just one person, they are a good team all over. So it doesn’t matter who we play against, they will be a formidable side.”

The men from Pretoria are the only team that are unbeaten at home and with the possibility of going into the mid-season break at the top of the table, if they win on Saturday, Marais concedes that they will have to be at their very best.

“For us it is very easy, we have been inconsistent at certain stages of the season and we wanted to change that. We made a decision at the beginning of the season, if we play at Loftus then we need to be up for it. There are no excuses,” Marais declared.

“We are playing possibly the best attacking side in South Africa and it is good for us to measure ourselves against them. To see how far we are, we have to play against the Currie Cup champions and currently the number one side in South Africa. It isn’t difficult to motivate this side.”

Lions head coach Johan Ackermann has made seven changes to his starting line-up for Saturday’s clash with the Bulls in Pretoria.

In the back-line, fly-half Marnitz Boshoff will make his first appearance for the season as a replacement for the injured Elton Jantjies, who underwent an operation on his hand injury earlier in the week.

Elsewhere, Sylvian Mahuza also gets his first start, coming in for Jaco van der Walt who sustained a knee injury in the one-sided victory against the Jaguares last weekend.

In other rotational changes, Malcolm Marx, Andries Ferreira, Warwick Tecklenburg and Rohan Janse van Rensburg all return to the run-on side after being rested last weekend.

Ashlon Davis has been included on the bench and if he gets a run will make his debut in the back-line. That means that the Lions have had 12 new players this season and it shows that they keep developing young players.

Bulls: 15 SP Marais, 14 Jamba Ulengo, 13 Jesse Kriel, 12 Jan Serfontein, 11 Bjorn Basson, 10 Francois Brummer, 9 Piet van Zyl, 8 Arno Botha, 7 Jannes Kirsten, 6 Lappies Labuschagne, 5 RG Snyman, 4 Jason Jenkins, 3 Marcel vd Merwe, 2 Adriaan Strauss (c), 1 Lizo Gqoboka
Replacements: 16 Bandise Maku, 17 Trevor Nyakane, 18 Pierre Schoeman, 19 Grant Hattingh, 20 Deon Stegmann, 21 Rudy Paige, 22 Tian Schoeman, 23 Dries Swanepoel

Lions: 15 Sylvian Mahuza, 14 Ruan Combrinck, 13 Lionel Mapoe, 12 Rohan Janse van Rensburg, 11 Courtnall Skosan, 10 Marnitz Boshoff, 9 Faf De Klerk, 8 Warren Whiteley, 7 Warwick Tecklenburg, 6 Jaco Kriel, 5 Franco Mostert, 4 Andries Ferreira, 3 Julian Redelinghuys, 2 Malcolm Marx, 1 Dylan Smith
Replacements: 16 Armand Van Der Merwe, 17 Corne Fourie, 18 Jacques Van Rooyen, 19 Ruan Ackermann, 20 Cyle Brink, 21 Ross Cronje, 22 Howard Mnisi, 23 Ashlon Davids

Date: Saturday, May 28
Venue: Loftus Versfled, Pretoria
Kick-off: 17:10 local (15:10 GMT)
Referee: Craig Joubert
Assistant Referees: Marius van der Westhuizen, Cwengile Jadezweni
TMO: Christie du Preez


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