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Super Rugby preview: Lions take on Bulls at Ellis Park
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Bulls will look to work their way into the Super Rugby play-off places when they take on the Lions at Ellis Park on Saturday.
The Pretoria-based franchise, currently ninth in the Super Rugby ladder, travel to Johannesburg with just four points between them and the third-placed Crusaders.
Frans Ludeke's side have won their last three outings and can move into play-off contention with victory over the 14th placed Lions on Saturday afternoon.
After a five-match winless run between March and April had left the Bulls' hopes hanging in the balance, but a late surge could them turn the tide and reach the knockout stages.
Meanwhile, a 29-19 reverse at the hands of Western Force in Perth last weekend was a seventh straight loss for the Lions, who sit level on points with Queensland Reds at the foot of the table.
Their poor run has led to Lions coach Johan Ackermann making six changes to his starting XV for the Ellis Park showdown.
In the forwards, Ackermann has made wholesale changes to the front-row with Schalk van der Merwe, Robbie Coetzee and Julian Redelinghuys all brought in.
Meanwhile, in the back-line, Chrysander Botha will start at left wing, where he replaces Anthony Volmink while Stokkies Hanekom replaces Deon van Rensburg at outside centre and Courtnall Skosan will fill the right wing berth, having recovered from injury.
Bulls boss Ludeke has makes just three changes, all in the pack, to the side which claimed a 44-23 victory over the Brumbies in Pretoria last time out.
Jacques Engelbrecht is promoted from the bench to start at No 8, with Grant Hattingh moving to lock in place of Victor Matfield who is rested.
In another rotational swap, Marcel van der Merwe will start at tighthead, with Werner Kruger playing off the bench.
Wimpie van der Walt replaces Engelbrecht on the bench, where there is also a return for fly-half Louis Fouche, who replaced the absent Handre Pollard, as he captains the Junior Springboks in New Zealand.
Lions: 15 Van Wyk, 14 Skosan, 13 Hanekom, 12 Hollenbach, 11 Botha, 10 Boshoff, 9 Cronje; 1 S van der Merwe, 2 Coetzee, 3 Redelinghuys, 4 Mathee, 5 Mostert, 6 Kriel, 7 Tecklenburg 8 Whiteley (capt).
Replacements: 16 A van der Merwe, 17 Fourie, 18 Dreyer, 19 Britz, 20 Minnie, 21 De Klerk, 22 Jantjies, 23 Van Rensburg.
Bulls: 15 Visser, 14 Ndungane, 13 JJ Engelbrecht, 12 Serfontein, 11 Basson, 10 Potgieter, 9 Hougaard; 1 Greyling, 2 Visagie, 3 M van der Merwe, 4 F van der Merwe (capt), 5 Hattingh, 6 Ross, 7 Du Plessis, 8 J Engelbrecht.
Replacements: 16 Mbonambi, 17 Kruger, 18 Mellett, 19 Willemse, 20 Van der Walt, 21 Van Zyl, 22 Fouche, 23 Smith.
You can see Lions v Bulls live from 4:05pm on Sky Sports 4HD
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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