Preview: Bulls v Lions
As the Lions fine-tune their selections for the season, the Bulls will use their Gauteng Cup warm-up match in Soweto on Saturday to test their depth and new combinations.
The Bulls return to the scene where they clinched their third Super Rugby title in 2010 and they will hope for the memories of that momentous day to inspire a new crop of players.
Bulls coach Frans Ludeke said this week they would rely on their extended squad this season to ensure the team remained competitive throughout the Super Rugby competition.
The youngsters and fringe players in the squad could do themselves some favours by showing Ludeke that they should be considered for the Bulls side for the 2013 campaign.
“It is a great test for us, to see where we are and areas we would like to adjust and fine-tune for the next game next week,” Ludeke said.
The Pretoria side were mindful of the Lions' expansive style of play, which would test their defence.
“They are a very exciting team. They are not afraid to throw the ball around, they play a ball movement type of game,” said Ludeke.
The Lions got their season off to a solid start with a 51-13 thumping of Russia, which they followed up with an impressive performance in their 33-17 victory over the Cheetahs last week.
While the Lions impressed with their display of running rugby against both teams, Ludeke believed they also won the physical battles among the forwards.
“Against both teams, Russia and the Cheetahs, I thought the Lions had the better up front, and especially in the lineouts against Russia. Last weekend they were very competitive in the scrum,” he said.
Though the contest was viewed as a pre-season match, Lions coach Johan Ackermann said they were hungry for another win.
“I spoke to Frans (Ludeke) and he said they were already analysing us, and while it is still pre-season, I trust both teams will put an emphasis on winning,” said Ackermann.
Soweto, on the outskirts of Johannesburg, is technically Lions territory, but the Bulls have converted many supporters from this area into loyal fans.
Lions captain JC Janse van Resburg said they hoped to reclaim their Soweto fan base.
“Soweto still falls under the Lions, and while the Bulls might not think so, we want to play a good match on Saturday," he said.
"When we return we want to see all these supporters in Lions jerseys."
Bulls: 15 Jürgen Visser, 14 Travis Ismaiel, 13 Lionel Mapoe, 12 Jan Serfontein, 11 Sampie Mastriet, 10 Louis Fouchè, 9 Jano Vermaak, 8 Arno Botha, 7 Jean Cook, 6 Deon Stegmann (c), 5 Grant Hattingh, 4 Paul Willemse, 3 Frik Kirsten, 2 Willie Wepener, 1 Juan Schoeman.
Replacements: 16 Bongi Mbonambi, 17 Hencus van Wyk, 18 Wiaan Liebenberg, 19 Cornell Hess, 20 Ruan Snyman, 21 Handrè Pollard, 22 Ulrich Beyers, 23 Jacques du Plessis.
Lions: 15 Andries Coetzee, 14 Deon Helberg, 13 Stokkies Hanekom, 12 Alwyn Hollenbach, 11 Anthony Volmink, 10 Marnitz Boshoff, 9 Michael Bondesio, 8 Willie Britz, 7 Derick Minnie, 6 Jaco Kriel, 5 Franco Mostert, 4 Hendrik Roodt, 3 Ruan Dreyer, 2 Francois du Toit, 1 JC Janse van Rensburg (c).
Replacements: 16 Robbie Coetzee, 17 Jacques van Rooyen, 18 JJ Breet, 19 Warwick Tecklenberg, 20 Ross Cronje, 21 Lionel Cronje, 22 Ruhan Nel.