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    Bulls still eye playoffs

    2014-04-30 16:28
    Pretoria - Bulls coach Frans Ludeke says they still have their sights set on reaching the Super Rugby playoffs but their immediate focus will be on their clash against the Cheetahs at Loftus Versfeld on Saturday.

    "We have to be at our best this weekend. It will have to be our best game of the year, that is what we are working for," Ludeke said on Wednesday.

    "The playoffs are still reachable for us and we know the immediate goal is this weekend."

    Meanwhile, the Bulls' mentor made four changes to the run-on side that will face a resurgent Cheetahs outfit.

    Ludeke surprised with the inclusion of Handré Pollard at the expense of Jacques-Louis Potgieter, while his fellow Junior World Championship team-mate William Small-Smith replaces JJ Engelbrecht at outside centre.

    Small-Smith will make up a new centre combination with Jan Serfontein, with whom he partnered at the World Championship on South African soil, while Pollard was the flyhalf at that tournament.

    "The three of them have been playing together for a long time - they're guys that have been together from junior South African level," the coach said.

    Ludeke made a rotational change in the front row with Marcel van der Merwe receiving his first starting berth in place of Werner Kruger.

    Regular hooker Callie Visagie moves back into the starting XV at the expense of Bongi Mbonambi, who drops down to the bench with Bandise Maku moving out of the side altogether.

    The Bulls are coming under increasing pressure regarding their loose forward combination of flanks Jono Ross, Jacques du Plessis and No 8 Grant Hattingh.

    Ross, in particular, has come under severe scrutiny particularly for his performances at the breakdown areas.

    Ludeke, however, came to their defence and said while they had their weaknesses in some areas, there were areas where they excelled.

    "We are in camp and we work with the players and review the game. We get a plan and put it together and we know what we have in every player and what they can bring for us," he said.

    "We've obviously lost four world-class players among the loose forwards, so we are trying to manage that situation."

    Kick-off is at 17:05 on Saturday.

    Teams:

    Bulls:

    15. Jurgen Visser, 14. Akona Ndungane, 13. William Small-Smith, 12. Jan Serfontein, 11. Bjorn Basson, 10. Handré Pollard, 9. Francois Hougaard, 8. Grant Hattingh, 7. Jacques du Plessis, 6. Jono Ross, 5. Victor Matfield (captain), 4. Paul Willemse, 3. Marcel van der Merwe, 2. Callie Visagie, 1. Dean Greyling

    Substitutes: 16. Bongi Mbonambi, 17. Morné Mellett, 18. Werner Kruger, 19. Jacques Engelbrecht, 20. Wimpie van der Walt, 21. Rudy Paige, 22. Jacques-Louis Potgieter, 23. JJ Engelbrecht

    Cheetahs:

    15 Hennie Daniller, 14 Raymond Rhule, 13 Johann Sadie, 12 Ryno Benjamin, 11 Willie le Roux, 10 Elgar Watts, 9 Sarel Pretorius, 8 Boom Prinsloo, 7 Jean Cook, 6 Heinrich Brussow, 5 Francois Uys, 4 Andries Ferreira, 3 Maks van Dyk, 2 Adriaan Strauss (captain), 1 Caylib Oosthuizen.

    Substitutes: 16 Torsten van Jaarsveld, 17 Trevor Nyakane, 18 Coenie Oosthuizen, 19 Ligtoring Landman, 20 Teboho Mohoje, 21 Shaun Venter, 22 Johan Goosen, 23 Cornal Hendricks

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