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JP PietersenCell C SharksJP Pietersen will join a select group of Vodacom Super Rugby centurions when he runs out at Loftus for the Cell C Sharks’ fixture against the Bulls, playing in his 100th game for the franchise.

Since making his debut in 2006, he has become a vital member of the team. He has scored 33 tries in Super Rugby and 17 in 42 Currie Cup games and boasts a Rugby World Cup winners medal from 2007 (and has been capped 51 times at Test level).

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Sampie MastrietDewald PotgieterBullsVodacom Bulls coach Frans Ludeke named Sampie Mastriet on the wing and Dewald Potgieter as No 8 in his team to play Cell C Sharks at Loftus Versfeld on Saturday.

Both players will make their first appearance in the Vodacom Super Rugby tournament this year. Mastriet comes into the team in place of Akona Ndungane after a highly productive stint with the Springbok Sevens team and Potgieter joined up with the team following a season with his Japanese club Yamaha Jubilo and will take the place of Jono Ross.

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Dewald PotgieterBullsThe Vodacom Bulls will return former captain Dewald Potgieter to the starting line-up immediately in order to win Saturday’s Vodacom Super Rugby match against the Cell C Sharks.

The crucial fortnight that lies ahead can make or break their campaign, and a win against the Sharks will go a long way to bringing the team back into the race for the South African conference.

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Super RugbyThe Vodacom Bulls delivered their best performance of the season as the Cell C Sharks kept their grip on the top of the Vodacom Super Rugby table.

The three-time champions from Pretoria scored four tries to one in their impressive victory over the Blues at Loftus Versfeld – their first try-scoring bonus-point of 2014 in a 38-22 win.

The Cell C Sharks’ score over the Lions was similar – 37-23 – and they also got a bonus-point for four tries which, as in the Vodacom Bulls’ case, was scored very late in the match.

The two South African teams currently touring Down Under both lost – the Toyota Cheetahs by 43-33 against the Reds in Brisbane, while the DHL Stormers put in a very spirited performance in Christchurch, but ultimately lost by 14-13 against the Crusaders – their 33rd successive home win over teams from the Republic.

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coenie_oosthuizenFrik KirstenTwo of South Africa’s recent members who toured with the Springboks to the Northern Hemisphere, Frik Kirsten (tighthead prop) of the Vodacom Bulls and Coenie Oosthuizen (tighthead & loosehead prop) of the Toyota Cheetahs both have serious neck injuries.

Frik Kirsten might have to undergo neck surgery but we await news of the second opinion sought to clarify the matter. It is most likely the case that he will be out of the remainder of the Super Rugby season.

Coenie Oosthuizen was sent back to South Africa from the Cheetahs tour down under and it is also likely that he will be out for a lenghty spell.

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BluesThe Blues have named their team to play the Bulls on Saturday at Loftus Versfeld and have strengthened their front row with veterans Keven Mealamu and Tony Woodcock.

The All Black duo have been named in the starting team for the first time this season. After playing 30 minutes off the bench last week, the Blues and All Blacks centurions have been promoted to the starting XV and will form an all-All Black front row alongside Charlie Faumuina.

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BullsAkona NdunganeAkona Ndungane will become the ninth Vodacom Bulls player to play 100 Vodacom Super Rugby matches for the franchise when they take on the Blues at Loftus Versfeld on Saturday. The stalwart winger made his Super Rugby debut way back in 2005 against the Cats and earned his 50th cap for the Bulls in 2009, playing against the Reds in Pretoria.

Ndungane, who scored against the Blues in last year’s win in Auckland, will start in an unchanged backline, as all three changes to the starting line-up made by Vodacom Bulls coach Frans Ludeke, are in the forward pack.

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BullsDewald PotgieterWimpie van der WaltDeon StegmannThe Vodacom Bulls released two Media Releases today, the first dealing with their weekly fitness update and the second announcing some interesting loose forward signings to counter the two long term injuries of Pierre Spies (6 months) and Arno Botha (5 months to go).

Deon Stegmann is fit again and training with the team this week.

Wimpie van der Walt, who played for the Southern Kings in Super Rugby in 2013 and who now plies his trade in Japan, will join the Bulls for 2 months with options for him to stay on longer and negotiations with Dewald Potgieter who also plies his trade in Japan is in advanced stages.

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Super RugbyCell C SharksThe Vodacom Bulls and DHL Stormers both scored their first wins of the season, but this past weekend of Super Rugby action should have confirmed the growing concern among neutrals that the story of the South African conference this year will be that there is the Sharks and then there’s rubbish.

The Sharks, who would hardly have been quaking in their boots as they watched the games featuring South African teams on television during their bye weekend, admittedly weren’t all that flush in their last performance, when they beat the Hurricanes.

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Super RugbyThe Vodacom Bulls and DHL Stormers returned to winning ways on a weekend of Vodacom Super Rugby where 6 from 7 home teams were victorious.

Ironically both the teams from Pretoria and Cape Town were outscored by 2 tries to 1 in their respective matches against the Lions and the Hurricanes, but won mainly because of pin-point goal-kicking accuracy.

On Friday evening the DHL Stormers snuck through by 19 / 18 against the Hurricanes at DHL Newlands, while the Vodacom Bulls beat the Lions by 25 / 17 in the first Gauteng-derby at Loftus Versfeld on Saturday afternoon.

It wasn’t a happy weekend for the Toyota Cheetahs though, as they lost their first tour match of the season by 35 / 14 to the Rebels in Melbourne.

The Cell C Sharks had a bye.

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BullsDewald PotgieterJuan SmithThe Vodacom Bulls, who have been struggling in the first two Rounds of Super Rugby in 2014 are reportedly hunting the services of Dewald Potgieter, who is currently playing his rugby in the Japanese league and also the services of Juan Smith, who is playing his rugby at Toulon in France.

In the meantime, Frans Ludeke is still adament that backing Louis Fouché is the right thing to do, despite Louis Fouché being dropped from this weekend’s match-day 23.

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BullsGrant HattinghFrik KirstenVictor MatfieldJacques-Louis PotgieterJacques-Louis Potgieter will earn a first Vodacom Bulls start at flyhalf since 15 May 2010 when the home side host the Lions in their first home match of the Vodacom Super Rugby competition at Loftus Versfeld on Saturday.

The 29-year old pivot is one of four changes made to the starting side that came up short in Bloemfontein last weekend, with Grant Hattingh (as no 8), Victor Matfield (at no 5) and Frik Kirsten (as starting tighthead) the others to earn a start on the weekend.

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BullsGrant HattinghJacques-Louis PotgieterThe Vodacom Bulls are set to make radical changes to their team to face the Lions this weekend in order to get themselves onto the winning path in this year’s Vodacom Super Rugby series.

While Flip van der Merwe is set to captain the side once again, the team named on Wednesday will in all likelihood see Victor Matfield and Jacques-Louis Potgieter in the starting line-up and a bold move for regular lock Grant Hattingh to No 8.

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BullsNooseVodacom Bulls coach Frans Ludeke has called on fans to “keep the faith” after the team’s disappointing start to the Vodacom Super Rugby season.

The Bulls lost their opening two games against the Sharks and Cheetahs and on both occasions were struggling to get their own engine going, failing both on a tactical and a physical level against opposition they would normally look a lot more physical against.

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