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Super Rugby preview: The Bulls take on the Cheetahs at Loftus Versfeld
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The Bulls host the Cheetahs in a South African derby at Loftus Versfeld on Saturday looking to return to winning ways back on home soil.
Frans Ludeke's side lost all four of their games on their recent tour - the latest a 15-9 reverse against the Western Force - but are unbeaten so far at home this term, winning three times and drawing once.
Ludeke has tweaked his back-line and front row for Saturday's clash in Pretoria, including IRB Junior World Championship winners William Small-Smith and Handre Pollard in the starting XV for the first time this season, while also giving prop Marcel van der Merwe a first start.
Small-Smith replaces JJ Engelbrecht, who moves to the bench in place of Ulrich Beyers, while Pollard swaps places with Jacques-Louis Potgieter. Van der Merwe takes to the field with Werner Kruger being used as impact player this time around.
Callie Visagie returns at hooker, Bongi Mbonambi is on the bench and Bandise Maku drops out, with Ludeke saying it was time for rotating players again.
"Both Handre and William have slotted in well at this level and are eager to show what they have to offer," he told the Bulls' official website.
"This is a good opportunity for them."
Ludeke admits his team is under pressure against the high-flying Cheetahs, who earlier this year broke their Super Rugby duck against the Bulls.
"We are back at Loftus Versfeld where expectations are even higher and to be honest, not in a situation we wanted to be at this stage of the tournament," added Ludeke.
"We need to get out of our losing streak and back to winning ways, not only to stay in the competition but to justify the hard work we have put in.
"I am confident that we can turn things around, as it is small things that are costing us at the moment."
Cheetahs head coach Naka Drotske has selected the same starting XV for this Saturday's clash following their 35-22 win over the Stormers last time.
There are however three changes to the bench.
Coenie Oosthuizen returns in the 18 jersey in place of Rossouw de Klerk, while second Ligtoring Landman is also picked.
The main news, however, is the return of Springbok fly-half Johan Goosen to the bench, with Elgar Watts retaining the starting fly-half berth.
Despite last week's win, the Cheetahs are still 14th in Super Rugby, six points behind the Bulls in the South African Conference.
You can see all the action from Loftus Versfeld live on Sky Sports 3 - Red Button or Sky Sports Xtra at 4.05pm.
Bulls: 15 Visser, 14 Ndungane, 13 Small-Smith, 12 Serfontein, 11 Basson, 10 Pollard, 9 Hougaard; 1 Greyling, 2 Visagie, 3 van der Merwe, 4 Willemse, 5 Matfield (c), 6 Ross, 7 du Plessis, 8 Hattingh.
Replacements: 16 Mbonambi, 17 Mellett, 18 Kruger, 19 J Engelbrecht, 20 van der Walt, 21 Paige, 22 Potgieter, 23 JJ Engelbrecht.
Cheetahs: 15 Daniller, 14 Rhule, 13 Sadie, 12 Benjamin, 11 le Roux, 10 Watts, 9 Pretorius; 1 Caylib Oosthuizen, 2 Strauss (c), 3 van Dyk, 4 Ferreira, 5 Uys, 6 Brussow, 7 Cook, 8 Prinsloo.
Replacements: 16 van Jaarsveld, 17 Nyakane, 18 Coenie Oosthuizen, 19 Landman, 20 Mohoje, 21 Venter, 22 Goosen, 23 Hendricks.
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|Friday 13th February|
|06:35||Crusaders vs Melbourne Rebels|
|08:40||Brumbies vs Reds|
|17:10||Lions vs Hurricanes|
|Saturday 14th February|
|06:35||Blues vs Chiefs|
|15:05||Sharks vs Cheetahs|
|17:05||Bulls vs Stormers|
|Sunday 15th February|
|06:05||Waratahs vs Western Force|
|Friday 20th February|
|06:35||Chiefs vs Brumbies|
|08:40||Melbourne Rebels vs Waratahs|
|17:10||Bulls vs Hurricanes|
|Saturday 21st February|
|06:35||Highlanders vs Crusaders|
|08:40||Reds vs Western Force|
|15:05||Stormers vs Blues|
|17:10||Sharks vs Lions|
|Friday 27th February|
|06:35||Highlanders vs Reds|
|11:00||Western Force vs Hurricanes|
|17:10||Cheetahs vs Blues|
|Saturday 28th February|
|06:35||Chiefs vs Crusaders|
|08:40||Melbourne Rebels vs Brumbies|
|15:05||Bulls vs Sharks|
|17:10||Lions vs Stormers|
|Friday 6th March|
|06:35||Chiefs vs Highlanders|
|08:40||Brumbies vs Western Force|
|Saturday 7th March|
|06:35||Blues vs Lions|
|08:40||Reds vs Waratahs|
Read the thoughts and opinions of Phil Edwards with skysports.com