Super 14 - Game of the Week
Chiefs look to cement top spot
April 23, 2009
Victor Matfield is back to lead the Bulls against Super 14 leaders, the Chiefs © Getty Images
Our game of the week in round 11 of the Super 14 sees the table-topping Chiefs travel to Pretoria for what promises to be a mouth-watering encounter against the 3rd placed Bulls.
The Bulls are boosted with the news that Victor Matfield will return to the starting line-up and he also takes over the captaincy from Fourie du Preez. Head Coach, Frans Ludeke has also recalled flank Deon Stegmann who is back from a ban that he picked up against the Hurricanes. Stegmann's return in particular has delighted Ludeke.
"It is great to have him back and in combination with Dewald Potgieter we have two young and fast loose forwards that are going to play towards the ball. The breakdowns have been one of the most crucial aspects of this year's tournament and therefore it will be in our best interest of the team to have Deon and Dewald in the starting lineup."
The combination of Stegmann, Potgieter and Spies means that Pedrie Wanneburg drops to the bench and Matfield partners Danie Rossouw in the second row.
Werner Kruger, Derick Kuün and Gurthrö Steenkamp complete the front row and the Bulls will field a full set of front row forwards on the bench to call on in the latter stages.
Ludeke said that the Bulls will play a familiar pattern to what they've adopted thus far this season but that he was looking in improvements from his team in other aspects of play. "We would like to make a step up in our set pieces and we have focused a lot on our play at the breakdown. It is all about making steady progress in all aspects of your game with a lot of emphasis on detail.
"As a team we need to constantly strive for perfection and for that reason it all comes down to the quality of our execution.
"We believe in our game plan - the challenge for us is to implement it and to adapt to whatever the Chiefs are going to throw at us."
Hika Elliot will start at hooker in a largely unchanged Chiefs team to play against the Bulls. Elliot starts ahead of Aled de Malmanche while in the only other change, scrum-half Toby Morland is promoted from the bench after Brendon Leonard was ruled out with a sternum injury suffered against the Cheetahs.
Coach Ian Foster is looking to what is always a highly charged atmosphere in Pretoria. "We are looking forward to the intensity that comes with a game at Loftus.
"We've enjoyed a second week of good preparation in South Africa and the squad is determined to keep growing at this key time in the season," he said.
Bulls: Kirchner; Ndungane, Nel, Olivier, Habana; Steyn, du Preez; Steenkamp, Kuün, Kruger, Rossouw, Matfield (captain), Stegmann, Potgieter, Spies
Replacements: Ralepelle, Engels, Gerber, Wannenburg, Adams, Francis, Pretorius
Chiefs: Muliaina (captain), Mikkelson, Kahui, Bruce, Sweeney, Donald; May, Elliot, McGougan, Clarke, O'Neill, Messam, Latimer, Lauaki
Reserves: de Malmanche, Taumalolo, Lynn, Lilo, Bason, Delany, Willison