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Super Rugby: The Coastal Sharks tackle the Bulls in a South African derby
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The Coastal Sharks put their unbeaten run on the line in this weekend's South African derby with the Northern Bulls at Loftus Versfeld in Pretoria.
The Sharks, under former World Cup-winning coach Jake White, have opened their season with four wins, but face a test against the Bulls in Pretoria, where they last won three years ago.
The Durban-based Sharks are comfortable eight-point leaders of the South African conference, but Saturday's encounter will give a strong indication of their title credentials this season.
Bulls coach Frans Ludeke has named Sampie Mastriet on the wing and Dewald Potgieter at number eight.
Both players will make their first Super Rugby appearances this year. Mastriet comes into the team in place of Akona Ndungane after a highly productive stint with the Springbok Sevens team and Potgieter joined up with the team following a season with his Japanese club Yamaha Jubilo and will take the place of Jono Ross.
Ndungane is still on compassionate leave following the passing of his father last week, whilst Ludeke opted for the experience of Potgieter at the base of the scrum.
Bulls captain Flip van der Merwe said the recent upsurge in form is something the team is keen to continue with.
"Our first two away outings were pretty disappointing and everyone stepped up after that," he explained. "We are keen to continue with the positive way we performed against the Lions and Blues.
"The Sharks are not topping the log for nothing, but we have prepared well for this one. We will be ready."
JP Pietersen will join a select group of centurions when he runs out in his 100th game for the Sharks.
"I'm sure it will be a special occasion for him," said Director of Rugby White. "I have no doubt JP, being as popular a player as he is to this group, a lot of the players will want to do well for him as well."
White has made just two changes to the team that defeated the Reds last week, both on the bench.
Heimar Williams goes into the side and Tim Swiel has been named as his replacement. Meanwhile, Andre Esterhuizen replaces Jaco van Tonder, and whichever player does come on will feature in his first match at Super Rugby level.
Bulls: 15 Jurgen Visser, 14 Sampie Mastriet, 13 JJ Engelbrecht, 12 Jan Serfontein, 11 Bjorn Basson, 10 Jacques-Louis Potgieter, 9 Francois Hougaard, 1 Dean Greyling, 2 Callie Visagie, 3 Werner Kruger, 4 Flip van der Merwe, 5 Victor Matfield, 6 Deon Stegmann, 7 Jacques du Plessis, 8 Dewald Potgieter.
Replacements: 16 Bongi Mbonambi, 17 Marcel van der Merwe, 18 Paul Willemse, 19 Jono Ross, 20 Piet van Zyl, 21 Handre Pollard, 22 Ulrich Beyers, 23 Morne Mellet.
Sharks: 15 SP Marais, 14 JP Pietersen, 13 S'bura Sithole, 12 Frans Steyn, 11 Lwazi Mvovo, 10 Patrick Lambie, 9 Cobus Reinach, 8 Ryan Kankowski, 1 Tendai Mtawarira, 2 Bismarck du Plessis, 3 Jannie du Plessis, 4 Anton Bresler, 5 Stephan Lewies, 6 Marcell Coetzee, 7 Willem Alberts.
Replacements: 16 Kyle Cooper, 17 Dale Chadwick, 18 Lourens Adriaanse, 19 Etienne Oosthuizen, 20 Tera Mtembu, 21 Charl McLeod, 22 Tim Swiel, 23 Andre Esterhuizen.
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|Waratahs 26 - 8 Brumbies|
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|Saturday 19th July|
|Sharks 31 - 27 Highlanders|
|Brumbies 32 - 30 Chiefs|
|Saturday 12th July|
|Stormers 10 - 34 Sharks|
|Lions 60 - 25 Cheetahs|
|Reds 3 - 34 Waratahs|
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|Friday 11th July|
|Bulls 40 - 7 Melbourne Rebels|
|Brumbies 47 - 25 Western Force|
|Blues 8 - 11 Chiefs|
|Sunday 6th July|
|Waratahs 44 - 16 Highlanders|
|Saturday 5th July|
|Cheetahs 27 - 20 Sharks|
|Stormers 16 - 0 Bulls|
|Western Force 30 - 20 Reds|
|Crusaders 21 - 13 Blues|
|Friday 4th July|
|Lions 34 - 17 Melbourne Rebels|
|Chiefs 24 - 16 Hurricanes|
|Saturday 28th June|
|Western Force 14 - 40 Blues|
|Waratahs 39 - 8 Brumbies|
|Hurricanes 16 - 9 Crusaders|
|Friday 27th June|
|Melbourne Rebels 20 - 36 Reds|
|Highlanders 29 - 25 Chiefs|
Read the thoughts and opinions of Phil Edwards with skysports.com