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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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|Saturday 2nd August|
|Waratahs 33 - 32 Crusaders|
|Saturday 26th July|
|Waratahs 26 - 8 Brumbies|
|Crusaders 38 - 6 Sharks|
|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|
|Crusaders 34 - 8 Highlanders|
|Friday 11th July|
|Bulls 40 - 7 Melbourne Rebels|
|Brumbies 47 - 25 Western Force|
|Blues 8 - 11 Chiefs|
Read the thoughts and opinions of Phil Edwards with skysports.com