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Super Rugby: The Bulls host the Rebels at Loftus Versfeld Stadium
- Chiefs win to make play-offs
- Brumbies through to play-offs
- Crusaders seal semi spot
- Waratahs steamroller Reds
The Bulls host the Rebels at Loftus Versfeld Stadium on Friday with nothing but pride and momentum to play for.
Both teams cannot make the play-offs, with the Bulls sitting in tenth in the table with 33 points, while the Rebels are rock-bottom after taking just 21 points from their campaign.
But both sides will be targeting victory to end the season on a high and build momentum for next year’s campaign.
In team news, flanker Roelof Smit will make his first start for the Bulls in Pretoria after debuting from the bench against the Stormers last weekend.
He will now start in the number six jersey in one of seven changes to the starting line-up, which sees Jurgen Visser returning at full-back in place of Ulrich Beyers having recovered from an abductor strain that kept him out of the Newlands clash.
Francois Hougaard will play on the wing, replacing the injured Akona Ndungane, with Piet van Zyl starting at scrum-half. With Grant Hattingh injured, Jacques Engelbrecht will move back to number eight, Jono Ross moves to the blinside flank and Smit slots in on the openside.
Bulls boss Frans Ludeke also changed his front row. Marcel van der Merwe will start at tighthead prop, Bandise Maku gets a rare start at hooker and Mornè Mellett will start at loosehead for the first time this season.
They replace Werner Kruger, Callie Visagie and Dean Greyling, who will all start off the bench. Ludeke also included Nicolaas Janse van Rensburg on the bench and should he get a run, the Junior Springbok lock will make his Bulls debut. Jesse Kriel is also on the bench for the first time at this level.
"We have nothing to lose, so decided to give some youngsters a run," said Ludeke.
"Injury also played a role in team selection. We want to end the season well and although our final log position will not be where we wanted, there is no reason why we cannot close out our campaign with a fine performance."
For the Rebels, skipper Scott Higginbotham will miss the match after being suspended for one week following three yellow cards.
Outside back Tom Kingston has been ruled out with an ongoing chronic knee injury, while young flyhalf Bryce Hegarty is a doubt following a shoulder injury sustained against the Lions.
Sam Jeffries and Lopeti Timani have both recovered from injury to fly out to meet up with the squad, while Alex Rokobaro has also flown out.
Bulls: 15 Visser, 14 Basson, 13 JJ Engelbrecht, 12 Serfontein, 11 Hougaard, 10 Pollard, 9 van Zyl; 1 Mellett, 2 Maku, 3 van der Merwe, 4 Willemse, 5 Matfield (c), 6 Smit, 7 Ross, 8 J Engelbrecht.
Replacements: 16 Visagie, 17 Kruger, 18 Greyling, 19 van Rensburg, 20 Orie, 21 Kriel, 22 Potgieter, 23 Smith.
Rebels: 15 Woodward, 14 Veainu, 13 Ellison, 12 Inman, 11 English, 10 Debreczeni, 9 Burgess; 1 Smith, 2 Horie, 3 Weeks, 4 Pyle, 5 Neville, 6 Jones, 7 Fuglistaller (c), 8 Fainga'a.
Replacements: 16 Leafa, 17 Ah-Nau, 18 Alo-Emile, 19 Timani, 20 Reid, 21 Stirzaker, 22 Foketi, 23 Rokobaro.
Watch Bulls v Rebels live from 6:10pm on Sky Sports 3HD
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