Ludeke happy with winning team
Pretoria - With their first victory of the season in the bag, Bulls coach Frans Ludeke decided to stick with his winning side to take on the unbeaten Cheetahs in a Super Rugby clash in Bloemfontein on Saturday.
The sun was finally shining over Loftus Versfeld after two weeks of doom and gloom where a quality Bulls side had suffered two consecutive home defeats.
Ludeke could be excused for the slight skip in his step, having no injuries to complicate his selection. Instead, he made one tactical change to the bench with scrumhalf Piet van Zyl replacing Travis Ismaiel.
While the mood in the Bulls camp was clearly lighter, Ludeke was quick to point out that they would be facing a host side with their tails up following two confidence-boosting victories.
The Cheetahs started their campaign with a valuable away victory over the Sharks before they overcame a spirited Blues team for last weekend's win.
"We are playing a side with two victories - they had a very good win over the Blues with little possession and an away victory over the Sharks," Ludeke said on Thursday.
"Everybody could see the Cheetahs were clinical when they got the opportunities in the right areas, so broken play will be crucial for us as well as ball retention at the breakdowns and our kicking."
Bulls captain Pierre Spies said the victory over the Sharks had brought much-needed relief and fortified their determination to build on the positives from that match.
"Obviously the mood is a lot better that the previous two weeks. When you get the result you are working towards, it is very rewarding for the players," Spies said.
"The guys are excited about playing the same type of rugby again and we want to continue with what we've built against the Sharks."
Asked whether the Cheetahs were a more dangerous prospect following their opening two victories, Spies said the Bloemfontein-based franchise had were always tricky opposition.
"They've always been dangerous. This year they have shown that they can be a lot more clinical. They've done really well winning these first two games and even with very little ball in the second game," he said.
"They pounce on your mistakes and it is something you have to be aware of the whole time, so we have to be sure about what we do and play in the right areas."
15 Willie le Roux, 14 Cornal Hendricks, 13 Francois Venter, 12 Michael van der Spuy, 11 Raymond Rhule, 10 Joe Pietersen, 9 Sarel Pretorius, 8 Jean Cook, 7 Oupa Mohoje, 6 Boom Prinsloo, 5 Francois Uys (captain), 4 Carl Wegner, 3 Coenie Oosthuizen, 2 Torsten van Jaarsveld, 1 Danie Mienie
Substitutes: 16 Stephan Coetzee. 17 BG Uys, 18 Maks van Dyk, 19 Tienie Burger, 20 Steven Sykes, 21 Tian Meyer, 22 Willie du Plessis, 23 Johann Sadie
15. Jesse Kriel, 14. Bjorn Basson, 13. JJ Engelbrecht, 12. Jan Serfontein, 11. Francois Hougaard, 10. Handre Pollard, 9. Rudy Paige, 8. Pierre Spies (captain), 7. Lappies Labuschagne, 6. Deon Stegmann, 5. Victor Matfield, 4. Jacques du Plessis, 3. Trevor Nyakane, 2. Adriaan Strauss, 1. Morne Mellett
Substitutes: 16. Callie Visagie, 17. Dean Greyling, 18. Marcel van der Merwe, 19. Grant Hattingh, 20. Hanro Liebenberg, 21 Tian Schoeman, 22. Piet van Zyl, 23. Jurgen Visser