The Blue Bulls host the Golden Lions on Friday night in Pretoria better known as the Jukskei Derby and it could be one of the matches of the season.
With the Blue Bulls busy building a formidable team of youngster in Pretoria the Golden Lions are welcoming back some star players for the Loftus clash on Friday. The biggest of them all is the return of Rohan Janse van Rensburg who will take his place yet again in the Lions midfield.
The Lions team also sees Kwagga Smith back who will add some extra spark for the forwards after recently winning a bronze medal in Rio with the Springbok Sevens team.
Blue Bulls coach Nollis Marais is confident the aura of Loftus will give his side the edge. “We are back at Loftus Versfeld, so have no excuses,” said Marais. “We play our best rugby here and enjoy massive support. The Golden Lions fans will remind us that we lost here last time we played and that is a good dose of reality. We have not been at our best and still need to play for this season. “This is an ideal opportunity to do it against the defending champions. We could not ask for a bigger challenge.”
The Blue Bulls was forced to make some changes with Pierre Schoeman that will start in the number one jersey ahead of Lizo Gqoboka. Hanro Liebenberg starts at eight for the injured Jannes Kirsten and Arno Botha moves to blindside flank with Roelof Smit that will provide loose-forward cover from the reserves.
In the Super Rugby match at Loftus earlier this year the Lions put fifty points past the men from Pretoria and they will not want a repeat of that day comes Friday night.
The Golden Lions went to a solid 38-17 win over the Blue Bulls in the same match last year and they are on a high after last week win at home. The Blue Bulls although not at all bad were beaten by the Sharks last weekend in Durban.
As we have said all along this season with one round of matches you cannot afford to lose too many and especially at home if you want to be their at semi-finals time. The Blue Bulls have now lost already two matches this year and cannot really afford another slip-up.
Prediction: Lions will be too good for Blue Bulls with at least 10 points.
Blue Bulls: 15 Duncan Matthews, 14 Travis Ismaiel, 13 Dries Swanepoel, 12 Burger Odendaal, 11 Jamba Ulengo, 10 Tian Schoeman, 9 Piet van Zyl, 8 Hanro Liebenberg, 7 Arno Botha (c), 6 Ruan Steenkamp, 5 Marvin Orie, 4 RG Snyman, 3 Jacobie Adriaanse, 2 Jaco Visagie, 1 Pierre Schoeman
Replacements: 16 Bandise Maku, 17 Martin Dreyer, 18 Nic de Jager, 19 Roelof Smit, 20 Andre Warner, 21 Joshua Stander, 22 Ulrich Beyers
Golden Lions: 15 Andries Coetzee, 14 Courtnall Skosan, 13 Rohan Janse van Rensburg, 12 Howard Mnisi, 11 Anthony Volmink, 10 Marnitz Boshoff, 9 Ross Cronje (c), 8 Ruan Ackermann, 7 Cyle Brink, 6 Kwagga Smith, 5 Lourens Erasmus, 4 Martin Muller, 3 Jacques van Rooyen, 2 Robbie Coetzee, 1 Dylan Smith
Replacements: 16 Armand van der Merwe, 17 Corné Fourie, 18 Victor Sekekete, 19 Fabian Booysen, 20 Dillon Smit, 21 Jaco van der Walt, 22 Jacques Nel
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