Pretoria – First place on the Currie Cup log and respective unbeaten runs will be on the line when the Blue Bulls and Golden Lions clash in Pretoria on Saturday.
Although the Bulls could move to the top of the points table with a victory over their Gauteng neighbours, coach Nollis Marais will not allow the thought to run away with the team.
“The Lions is the first side that I think we will meet that is the complete package, they have a good set-piece, an attacking side and also the best defensive side,” Marais said in Pretoria on Thursday.
“It will be a good test for us this weekend against a top side that are 2014 finalists so it is a good challenge for us.”
The Golden Lions are currently topping the Currie Cup log with 25 points with the Bulls biting at their heels with a point adrift.
Both sides are unbeaten so far in the competition which would end for either team over the weekend.
“We would love to be at the top of the log but for us it is just about winning the match, we are concentrating on that,” Marais said.
“We need to put certain things in place to ensure we win matches when you get to deciders.
“Anyone can still end at the top of the log and the pools are starting to play across, so it is going to be tough.”
The scrums will be a key aspect of the game with the Lions pack a dominant force in the set-piece while the Bulls have shown some improvements in this area.
Marais has selected an experienced front-row out of respect of the Lions’ scrum with Dean Greyling, Bandise Maku, and Marcel van der Merwe packing down the scrum.
Greyling comes into the starting XV in the place of Pierre Schoeman, who made a promising start in last week’s victory over the Cheetahs in Pretoria.
“I gave Dean the nod because of his experience and I think Pierre needs a game or two to settle into things,” Marais said.
“I think it is getting every week, in a game like this weekend against the Lions whose set piece is good, we need our best guys.
“They also need to know they have to step up because for the first time in a long time the pressure is on the props to perform, because the other guys are knocking on the door.”
Greyling’s inclusion is one of two changes Marais has made to the run-on side with Springbok Jan Serfontein earning a starting berth in the place of Burger Odendaal.
Serfontein will rekindle his midfield partnership with Dries Swanepoel, a combination they shared playing for Grey College.
“The first we saw them they were playing together for Grey College, they were excellent and Dries was injured a couple of seasons,” Marais said.
“There is something in those two players and Burger Odendaal is also a good player but I thought it would be good to give Jan a start.”
15 Warrick Gelant, 14 Travis Ismaiel, 13 Dries Swanepoel, 12 Jan Serfontein, 11 Jamba Ulengo, 10 Tian Schoeman, 9 Francois Hougaard, 8 Arno Botha, 7 Lappies Labuschagne (captain), 6 Roelof Smit, 5 Marvin Orie, 4 Jacques du Plessis, 3 Marcel van der Merwe, 2 Bandise Maku, 1 Dean Greyling.
Substitutes: 16 Jaco Visagie, 17 Werner Kruger, 18 RG Snyman, 19 Deon Stegmann, 20 Ivan van Zyl, 21 Louis Fouche, 22 Burger Odendaal.
15. Andries Coetzee, 14. Ruan Combrinck, 13. Stokkies Hanekom, 12. Howard Mnisi, 11. Courtnall Skosan, 10. Marnitz Boshoff, 9. Ross Cronje, 8. Fabian Booysen, 7. Stephan de Witt, 6. Jaco Kriel (captain), 5. Franco Mostert, 4. Martin Muller, 3. Ruan Dreyer, 2. Robbie Coetzee, 1. Jacques van Rooyen.
Substitutes: 16. Malcolm Marx, 17. Julian Redelinghuys, 18. MB Lusaseni, 19. Kwagga Smith, 20. Jaco van der Walt, 21. Rohan Janse van Rensburg, 22. Sampie Mastriet.