Super Rugby: Bulls host Brumbies in semi-final
Last Updated: 25/07/13 2:49pm
South African champions the Bulls take on their Australian counterparts the Brumbies in Pretoria with a place in the Super Rugby final up for grabs.
Saturday's clash - which is live on Sky Sports 4HD at 4.05pm - will be the second time the two sides have meet this season, following the Brumbies narrow 23-20 victory in round seven when they were awarded a penalty after the siren.
The last time the Brumbies played at Loftus Versfeld was in April 2012 when, despite outscoring the Bulls five tries to two, they went down 36-34.
Bulls ace Morne Steyn booted 23 points that night - including seven penalties - leaving the Brumbies under no illusion as to how important infringements will be in this upcoming fixture.
It has been nine years since the Canberra-based franchise last tasted finals rugby and the stats are against them, with the Bulls posting five wins from five games at home in post-season rugby.
Should the Crusaders be able to knock over the Chiefs in the other semi-final, the winner of this encounter will host the final next Saturday.
In team news, Jan Serfontein and Francois Hougaard both start for the Bulls, with the duo's return coinciding with former junior Springbok lock Paul Willemse returning to take his place on the bench.
All three players have recovered from the injuries that kept them out of the last league fixture against the Stormers in Cape Town two weeks ago.
Serfontein replaces Francois Venter in the midfield and Hougaard's inclusion comes at the expense of Jano Vermaak, who will move to the bench, where he replaces Rudy Paige.
Willemse replaces Jacques du Plessis, who made his debut in Cape Town.
Brumbies boss Jake White has named an unchanged matchday 22 following the narrow 15-13 win last time over the Cheetahs.
Bulls: 15 Zane Kirchner, 14 Akona Ndungane, 13 JJ Engelbrecht, 12 Jan Serfontein, 11 Bjorn Basson, 10 Morne Steyn, 9 Francois Hougaard, 8 Dewald Potgieter, 7 Jacques Potgieter, 6 Deon Stegmann, 5 Grant Hattingh, 4 Flip van der Merwe, 3 Werner Kruger, 2 Chiliboy Ralepelle, 1 Dean Greyling.
Replacements: 16 Callie Visagie, 17 Frik Kirsten, 18 Morne Mellett, 19 Paul Willemse, 20 Jono Ross, 21 Jano Vermaak, 22 Jürgen Visser.
Brumbies: 15 Jesse Mogg, 14 Henry Speight, 13 Tevita Kuridrani, 12 Christian Lealiifano, 11 Clyde Rathbone, 10 Matt Toomua, 9 Nic White, 8 Ben Mowen, 7 George Smith, 6 Peter Kimlin, 5 Sam Carter, 4 Scott Fardy, 3 Ben Alexander, 2 Stephen Moore, 1 Scott Sio.
Replacements: 16 Siliva Siliva, 17 Ruan Smith, 18 Fotu Auelua, 19 Colby Faingaa, 20 Ian Prior, 21 Andrew Smith, 22 Joe Tomane.
What they said...
Bulls captain Dewald Potgieter
"We have great fans and we love doing well in front of them. It is going to be a game of margins on Saturday and if we have our support base behind us, we will be able to edge ahead. We have to play the right type of rugby at the right times in the match and I am confident of that. We have experience in play-offs and we have big game players, so we will be ready."
Brumbies boss Jake White
"The Bulls present us with a huge challenge this weekend. We know they will play through their forwards and use Morne (Steyn) to finish with points. They have a good record here at Loftus and for our players to experience running on in front of a full house of more than 50,000 people will be fantastic. They are a typical South African side, very big and physical with some quality finishers out wide so it's up to our players to combat that with our own game."