Rugby 26.2.2014 03:24 pm

Bulls hope for first Super victory of the season

FILE PICTURE: Frans Ludeke during the Vodacom Bulls training session and press conference at Loftus Versveld on February 18, 2014 in Pretoria, South Africa. Picture: Lefty Shivambu/Gallo Images.

FILE PICTURE: Frans Ludeke during the Vodacom Bulls training session and press conference at Loftus Versveld on February 18, 2014 in Pretoria, South Africa. Picture: Lefty Shivambu/Gallo Images.

The Bulls have made sweeping changes to the side that will face the Lions at Loftus Versfeld in Pretoria on Saturday with the hope of securing their maiden victory of this year’s Super Rugby competition.

Following two consecutive defeats to the Sharks and the Cheetahs respectively, Bulls coach Frans Ludeke on Wednesday made four changes to the team and said he believed the new combinations would give his side the right impetus this weekend.

He said the team created enough opportunities but their finishing had let them down in the opening two games.

“We are creating enough opportunities, our defence is fantastic, we relieve the pressure when we are in our half,” Ludeke said.

“So we are patient, we are working hard and there are no excuses.

“I believe the table is set for a big contest in one of the big South African derbies which is always very hard.”

The Bulls have had an indifferent start to the season losing in trying conditions where they first had to deal with the humidity in Durban and torrential rain in Bloemfontein a week later.

Their kicking game which is usually one of their strong points has been a weakness over these two days, while the halfback combination of pivot Louis Fouche and scrumhalf Francois Hougaard lacked confidence.

Fouche was subsequently dropped out of the match-day 23 following a difficult return to the playing field after a long injury layoff with Jacques-Louis Potgieter coming in as pivot.

The 29-year-old Potgieter last played for the Bulls as a replacement centre in the final of the 2010 showpiece, when the home side beat the Stormers in Soweto for back-to-back Super Rugby titles.

Ludeke admitted he may have pushed Fouche back into the field too early after he suffered a knee ligament injury that kept him on the sidelines for more than six months.

He said Fouche’s current form was not a reflection of his talent and potential and would be given an opportunity to regain his confidence.

“There is nothing wrong with his ability, he is a quality flyhalf, we need him and he might still do something that could keep our campaign on the right course at a vital time,” he said.

“He came back from injury and I will take responsibility for us perhaps bringing him back too early when he may be needed more time.

“If there is an injury he will be right back then there is also the Vodacom Cup competition where he can regain his form.”

Bulls veteran Victor Matfield will receive his first starting berth since he came out of retirement at the beginning of this year.

Matfield slots in at lock in the place of Grant Hattingh, who shifts to eighthman at the expense of Jacques Engelbrecht.

In the only other change to the starting XV prop Werner Kruger moves to the bench to make way for Frik Kirsten.

Bulls team: Jurgen Visser, Akona Ndungane , JJ Engelbrecht, Jan Serfontein, Bjorn Basson, Jacques-Louis Potgieter, Francois Hougaard, Grant Hattingh, Jacques du Plessis, Jono Ross, Victor Matfield, Flip van der Merwe, Frik Kirsten, Callie Visagie, Dean Greyling.Replacements: Bongi Mbonambi, Werner Kruger, Marcel van der Merwe, Paul Willemse, Jacques Engelbrecht, Piet van Zyl, Handre Pollard, Ulrich Beyers.

Sapa

 

 

 

 

 

 

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