Bulls taking inspiration from Eden Park win
The Bulls are taking inspiration from last year's historic win at Eden Park as they look to beat the dangerous Blues team in their Super Rugby clash in Pretoria on Sunday.
The Bulls got their wobbly campaign back on track last weekend, edging the Lions after successive losses to the Sharks and Cheetahs.
They are relishing tackling some New Zealand opposition and believe last year's 28-21 win in Auckland, where they finally broke their Eden Park hoodoo, is the blueprint for this rematch on the high veldt (4.05am, Sunday NZT).
Striking early and then producing hallmark defence to snuff out the Blues attacking threats worked then and Bulls skipper Flip van der Merwe is demanding more of the same from his under-pressure team.
"What stood up from last year's win was our workrate. It wasn't the perfect win by a long shot, but our workrate stood out. Everyone played off their feet and that will be needed this week again if we want to beat the Blues," Van der Merwe said as the Bulls named a team strengthened by the return of livewire openside flanker Deon Stegmann.
"You need to be at your best, you need to make good decisions and you need to play well.
"We are still chasing the perfect game, so the Blues will be a different challenge ... they are a lot more technical than they were before.
"We have to get another win before our bye weekend - it's another home game and it is a must win."
Van der Merwe said the Blues' comeback 35-24 win over the Crusaders last week had showed their dangers.
"It's still very early in the season, but they're a very good side. The Crusaders win was massive, coming from behind and beating them that far. To beat an outfit like the Crusaders like takes some doing. But we're focusing on what we need to do."
Bulls coach Frans Ludeke says his team are up for the defensive challenge presented by the Blues.
"We know what the Blues will bring this weekend. They are a quality side full of international players," Ludeke said.
"What we've seen in the first couple of games they are a team that can move the ball around with a lot of steppers.
"They like to play a retention type of game with speed at the breakdown and they keep the ball alive.
"There are a lot of teams in South Africa that play like that and the challenge will be on defence over the weekend."
Ludeke believed Stegmann would boost his team's defensive qualities and also the ability to create turnovers which would be essential against the Blues.
In the only other change to the run-on side, Werner Kruger comes in at tighthead prop for Frik Kirsten whose career is threatened by another neck injury.
It's a big weekend for the Bulls wings with veteran Akona Ndungane becoming the first black player to play 100 games for one franchise while Bjorn Basson will get his 50th cap.
BULLS: Jurgen Visser , Akona Ndungane , JJ Engelbrecht , Jan Serfontein, Bjorn Basson, Jacques-Louis Potgieter, Francois Hougaard, Jono Ross, Jacques du Plessis, Deon Stegmann, Victor Matfield , Flip van der Merwe (c), Werner Kruger , Callie Visagie, Dean Greyling. Reserves: Bongi Mbonambi, Morne Mellett , Marcel van der Merwe , Paul Willemse , Jacques Engelbrecht , Piet van Zyl, Handre Pollard , Ulrich Beyers.
BLUES: Charles Piutau, Frank Halai, George Moala, Jackson Willison, Tevita Li, Simon Hickey, Piri Weepu; Peter Saili, Luke Braid (capt), Steven Luatua, Tom Donnelly, Liaki Moli, Charlie Faumuina, Keven Mealamu, Tony Woodcock. Reserves: James Parsons, Sam Prattley, Angus Ta'avao, Patrick Tuipulotu, Brendon O'Connor, Bryn Hall, Chris Noakes, Pita Ahki.