||Join us again shortly when the Rebels face the Chiefs at AAMI Park in Melbourne.|
||The Crusaders win the restart, but they are still in their own half of the field. Carter tries and find a way through but is tackled well before Sam Whitelock is tackled back. As the hooter sounds the Crusaders are still inside their own half - after a few phases and a strong run by Read, they get a penalty, which is taken quickly. They get another penalty after a high tackle. They take it quickly again and they are in the Canes 22 before the ball is lost forward. FULL-TIME: Hurricanes 29-23 Crusaders.|
||James Marshall goes for polls from about 40m and from an angle to put the game out of reach but it is short and the score remains 29-23|
||From the scrum, the Crusaders go to the short side to Nadolo before they go the other direction where Slade finds touch near his team's 10m line. The Hurricanes finally win a line-out and go wide before the ball goes out into touch. After a kick down field, Ardie Savea finds space in the Crusaders half and the home side wins a penalty.|
||The Crusaders attempt to run the ball out of their own 22 before Drummond sends a high ball, but the Hurricanes run it back with Coles. Nothing comes of it as the ball is lost forward once again and the Crusaders have a scrum just outside their own 22|
||The Crusaders win another line-out and Carter finds touch outside of his 22. From the line-out, the Hurricanes go to the midfield with Eves bashing his way through for a couple metre before the ball is lost forward. The Crusaders have a scrum deep in their half|
||From a line-out 5m from the Crusaders tryline, the Hurricanes win a scrappy ball before Thrush brings his team closer to the tryline. After a few pick-and- goes it is turned over and cleared by the away team, but the Hurricanes have another line-out in the 'Saders 22,|
||The Crusaders lose a line-out on their own 10m line now as the Hurricanes are are just 10m from their 22. Now in the Crusaders 22, the ball goes wide with Barrett looking for a gap. Nonu beats three defenders before the ball is lost and Nadolo is tackled into touch 5m from his tryline.|
||The Crusaders steal another line-out but they do nothing with it as Drummond's kick goes out on the full. From a line-out on the Crusaders 10m line, the Hurricanes go wide with Barrett finding a half gap. The away side turns it over and the get a penalty after a high tackle by Coles on Read. Carter cannot find touch|
||The Hurricanes lose the ball forward from the restart and the Crusaders take the ball up towards the Canes 22 before giving away a penalty. Barrett gives his team a line-out just past the Crusaders 10m line.|
||Barrett hits the upright from the conversion, but the Hurricanes lead 29-23|
||From a line-out inside their own half the Crusaders drive forward with a maul before they send a high ball. The away side gets the ball back from a kick and a kicking duel ensues between the teams, Barrett finds space before the ball is spread wide to Blade Thomson who dives in the corner for the try!|
||Slade converts the penalty and the score is now 24-23 to the Hurricanes|
||The Crusaders have the ball now in the Hurricanes half with Todd driving forward. They go wide and Read slips a tackle from Nonu before Crotty loses the ball forward, but play is brought back for a penalty after Ben Franks offiside|
||Barrett adds the extras and the Hurricanes lead 24-20|
||The home side wins a scrappy line-out before. Thomson braeks through a gap up the middle of the park. The Hurricanes find themselves in the Crusaders 22 before the ball is turned over and kicked down field from the Crusaders. The home side runs it back and Coles is brought down 5m short. After a few phases Goodes drives his way over for the try!|
||The Crusaders still have possession and are just 5m from the Hurricanes 22. Slade steps his way in the 22 and gets the ball ripped from him. The Hurricanes get a penalty now and Barrett gives his team a line-out near halfway.|
||From a line-out deep inside their own half, the Crusaders form a maul and drive it forward before Ellis sends a high ball. Havili wins it in the air before it goes wide for Crotty. The away side cannot find a way through the home side's defence.|
||The Hurricanes, from a line-out in the Crusaders half' go wide to Savea who is tackled well. His brother Ardie bounces off a couple of tackles before it goes wide again with Gibbins brought down 5m short. The Crusaders does well on the ground and the Canes hold on and give away a penalty.|
||The Hurricanes steal the line-out and it goes wide to Savea who is tackled into touch near halfway. The Hurricanes get the ball back from a high ball and are pegged back in their own half before a player leaves his feet and the Crusaders get the penalty. Slade goes for polls from 30m out and converts the penalty - Crusaders 20-17 Hurricanes.|
||The Hurricanes get the ball back from a high ball and Nonu holds off a few tacklers towards the Crusaders 10m line. The Crusaders get another penalty with the Canes holding on and Slade gives his team a line-out 10m from the Canes 22|
||From a line-out on the Crusaders 10m line, the Hurricanes keep it close with the forwards making a few metres up field. It goes wide and Milner-Skudder. It goes wide a gain and Julian Savea powers his way over the tryline but it was a double movement and a penalty to the Crusaders|
||SECOND HALF: Hurricanes flyhalf Beauden Barrett gets the second half under way!|
||After a few reset scrums, the ball finally comes out to Crotty who lays a platform for a clearance kick. The Hurricanes run it back and get a penalty with Crusaders players not rolling away. Barrett will go for polls from about 35m out to level the scores and he converts the penalty! HALF-TIME: Hurricanes 17-17 Crusaders|
||The Hurricanes, from the 5m scrum, lose the ball forward after some good pressure from Ellis on Ardie Savea and the 'Saders get a defensive scrum.|
||The Hurricanes now go on the attack and a well worked move sees Broadhurst sprint for the tryline but loses the ball forward centimetres short. The Crusaders have a scrum 5m from their own tryline. The Hurricanes now win the scrum and are in a good attacking position 5m from the tryline.|
||Slade adds the extras and the Crusaders lead 17-14|
||The Hurricanes lose another line-out inside the own half and Crotty breaks a tackle before Slade eveades two tackles to go over for his team;s second try of the game!|
||Slade converts the penalty and the score is now 14-10 to the Hurricanes|
||The Crusaders gets the ball back from the restart and the go wide to Nadolo who breaks free from the tackler before passing to Ellis in the Canes 22. The away team gets the penalty and Nonu gets a yellow card for an offside infringement|
||Slade sets up the kick from a much closer distance but again misses the penalty and it stays 14-7|
||Taylor sends a high ball and Slade gathers well and makes his way into the Hurricanes 22. Crotty makes a few metres before passing to Crockett who is 5m short. Read takes the ball up before it goes wide to Nadolo who loses the ball forward. Play is brought back for a Crusaders penalty.|
||Slade sets-up the kick from about 45m out and misses the penalty and the score remains 14-7|
||The throw in is not straight from the Hurricanes and the Crusaders get a scrum on their own 10m line. Ellis goes to the short side and kick down field. The Crusaders get the ball back and find themselves in the Canes half and they get another penalty.|
||The Crusaaers form the maul once again the Canes 22, but it is stolen by Shields who punts the ball down field. The away side does well under pressure and clear their lines with a kick. The Crusaders get the ball back from a kick and run it back into the Canes half. They give away a penalty for and Barrett gives his team a line-out on the Crusaders 10m line.|
||From the line-out the Crusaders steal it and they go wide with Read making a few metres. Todd charges strongly and the Crusaders win a penalty on the Canes 10m and Slade finds touch in the Hurricanes 22.|
||The Crusaders, from the scrum on halfway, wins the penalty after another collapse by Ben Franks and Carter gives his team a line-out in the Canes 22. They form the maul, but this time they give away the penalty after changing lanes and Barrett gives his team a line-out near halfway.|
||Ellis sends a high ball and the Hurricanes run it back again with Nonu but the ball is lost forward and the Crusaders will get a chance to settle down with a scrum on the Hurricanes side of halfway.|
||Barrett adds the conversion and the Hurricanes lead 14-17|
||The Hurricanes are nearly through again but the pass does not go to hand and the Crusaders clear. The ball comes back with the Hurricanes and Savea passes to Shields in the Saders 22 for another try!|
||Barrett adds the extras and the scores are level at 7-7|
||The Crusaders, from a scrum on halfway, win a penalty with the Ben Franks collapsing. The Crusaders have a line-out now on the Canes 22m line. The Crusaders form the driving maul before they go wide and a pass is loose and is picked up by Barrett who runs about 80m for the try!|
||From the scrum, The Hurricanes go wide to Milner-Skudder who can't evade the tackle of Crotty. Barrett kicks before the Crusaders return it. The home side have the ball on halfway now and Nonu loses the ball forward.|
||The Crusaders continue their strong start to the game before losing the ball forward near halfway after going onto the attack. The Hurricanes have a scrum in a good position now.|
||Slade adds the extras and the Crusaders lead 7-0|
||Barrett kicks the ball out from his 22 and the Crusaders have a line-out on the Canes 10m line. The away side gets good ball from the set piece and make their way into the Hurricanes 22 with Crotty running strongly. The ball goes to Slade who steps well and passes to Carter who is in for the try!|
||KICK-OFF: Crusaders flyhalf Colin Slade gets the game under way!|
||The Crusaders won their last away fixture, however their previous two away wins were each followed by back-to-back away defeats.|
||The Hurricanes have won nine of their last 11 home matches and have not lost two in a row (in one season) in Wellington since July 2013.|
||Welcome to live coverage of Round 12 of Super Rugby with the Hurricanes taking on the Crusaders at Westpac Stadium in Wellington|
It is getting tight at the front-end of the Super Rugby play-off race. Jan de Koning looks at Saturday's matches.
It is getting tight at the front-end of the Super Rugby play-off race.
Just 10 points separate teams one to six, the current play-off spots, with seven more rounds to go. And with another three teams just three points outside of that, it means every defeat now could be cataclysmal.
Saturday's action start with two teams already well out of the race and playing just for pride - the 14th-placed Blues hosting the last-placed Western Force in Auckland.
After that it gets real interesting.
The table-topping Hurricanes host a desperate Crusaders team - the latter three points off the play-off pace - in Wellington.
The Rebels, with nothing more than a mathematic chance of making the play-offs, could do some serious harm to the Chiefs' prospects when they meet in Melbourne.
The day concludes with two all-South African derbies.
The first is in Bloemfontein where the Cheetahs, playing for little more than pride, host the South African conference leaders, the Stormers.
The Bulls, who conceded first place in the SA conference to the Stormers with a two-point defeat last week, host the high-flying Lions in Pretoria - the latter looking to extend their record-breaking five-match winning streak and improve their own play-off prospects.
We look at all Saturday's matches!
Saturday, May 2
Blues v Western Force
(Eden Park, Auckland - Kick-off: 17:30; 13:30 AEST, 05:30 GMT)
John Kirwan's name remains in the headlines.
That is because his team has failed to live up to their pre-season hype and the vultures are circling.
It emerged this week that Kirwan put a resuscitation plan on the table that includes luring Crusaders assistant coach Tabai Matson to Auckland next year.
Reports in the New Zealand media suggest Kirwan is pushing for Matson to come on board as an assistant next year, with an eye to taking the reins the following season - with Kirwan stepping into an overseeing high performance role.
However, all this off-field talk is doing little to help solve the current on-field troubles.
And they will be up against a desperate Force team stuck on bottom of the table with 10 points; one behind both the Blues and Reds.
The Force haven't won since beating the Waratahs in their season-opener.
The subsequent nine-match losing run is the equal worst in the Force's 10-year history, and the team is desperate to snap back to the winners' list this week.
The Force were plucky against the Chiefs last Friday, scoring three tries in the second half.
Coach Michael Foley said the signs are there that his team's fortunes are changing.
"There was some good improvement in our ability to identify and take opportunities against the Chiefs," Foley said.
"This week we take on an experienced Blues side that contains a number of dangerous ball runners.
"To that end, while maintaining our attack is a focus, our defence will be the foundation of a good performance."
2014: Blues won 40-14, Perth
2012: Blues won 32-9, Auckland
2011: Blues and Force drew 22-all, Perth
2010: Blues won 38-17, Auckland
2009: Blues won 25-19, Perth
2008: Force won 27-17, Albany
Prediction: The Blues have won 10 of their last 12 home games against Australian opponents. The Force have beaten the Blues just once in Super Rugby, however that win did come away from home (2008). Five of those six defeats have been by margins over 20 points. After defeat to the Chiefs last weekend, the Force are now winless in their last four against New Zealand sides by an average margin of 22 points. Defeat for the Force would signal their worst ever run of form in Super Rugby. They are enduring a nine-match losing streak, something which previously occurred at the beginning of their first campaign in 2006. The Blues' 29-15 loss to the Crusaders was their heaviest defeat in over a year, but their 11th defeat in 12 matches. In this dance of the desperates we are going with the home team and say the Blues will win by eight points.
Blues: 15 Charles Piutau. 14 Lolagi Visinia, 13 Francis Saili, 12 George Moala/Hamish Northcott, 11 Melani Nanai, 10 Dan Bowden, 9 Jimmy Cowan, 8 Jerome Kaino (captain), 7 Brendon O'Connor, 6 Akira Ioane, 5 Hayden Triggs, 4 Josh Bekhuis/Culum Retallick, 3 Charlie Faumuina, 2 Keven Mealamu, 1 Tony Woodcock.
Replacements: 16 James Parsons, 17 Ofa Tu'ungafasi, 18 Angus Ta'avao, 19 Steven Luatua, 20 Luke Braid, 21 Jamison Gibson-Park, 22 Ihaia West, 23 Hamish Northcott/Tevita Li.
Western Force: 15 Dane Haylett-Petty, 14 Luke Morahan, 13 Kyle Godwin, 12 Luke Burton, 11 Nick Cummins, 10 Sias Ebersohn, 9 Ryan Louwrens, 8 Ben McCalman, 7 Matt Hodgson (captain), 6 Angus Cottrell, 5 Adam Coleman/Wilhelm Steenkamp, 4 Steve Mafi, 3 Tetera Faulkner, 2 Nathan Charles, 1 Pekahou Cowan.
Replacements: 16 Heath Tessmann, 17 Chris Heiberg, 18 Guy Millar, 19 Wilhelm Steenkamp/Ross Haylett-Petty, 20 Kane Koteka, 21 Justin Turner, 22 Marcel Brache, 23 Junior Rasolea.
Referee: Ben O'Keeffe (New Zealand)
Assistant referees: Nick Briant (New Zealand), Paul Williams (New Zealand)
TMO: Ben Skeen (New Zealand)
Hurricanes v Crusaders
(Westpac Stadium, Wellington - Kick-off: 19:35; 07:35 GMT)
The Hurricanes will be under renewed pressure to hold on to their one-point lead over the Chiefs in the New Zealand conference, when they host the seven-time Super Rugby champions Crusaders.
The Hurricanes, beaten only once in nine games this season, have had some mighty tussles with the Crusaders at home in recent years and this will be another test of their credentials for a first-ever Super Rugby title.
The Wellington-based team will be boosted by the return from injury of hooker Dane Coles, fullback Nehe Milner-Skudder and wing Cory Jane.
However, captain Conrad Smith reckons the All Black-laden Crusaders are exactly the type of 'banana skin' that could spell trouble for the ambitious Hurricanes.
The match marks the start of a stretch of six New Zealand derby games in their last seven for the Hurricanes.
It is worth noting that the Hurricanes have a very poor record in derby matches, winning less than 50 percent of the time against their compatriots.
"All derby games, there's always a little bit more on the line," Smith told NZ Newswire.
"We're certainly excited about it but we're not in any way forgetting how much more work we've got to do.
"We know there are few Kiwi teams licking their lips at the chance of getting a crack at us."
Smith also knows that the Hurricanes have a huge target on their collective backs.
"In some ways you can be a victim of your own success."
2014: Hurricanes won 16-9, Wellington
2014: Hurricanes won 29-26, Christchurch
2013: Crusaders won 25-17-, Christchurch
2013: Hurricanes won 29-28, Wellington
2012: Hurricanes won 23-22, Christchurch
2012: Crusaders won 42-14, Wellington
Prediction: The Hurricanes have won nine of their last 11 home matches and have not lost two in a row (in one season) in Wellington since July 2013. The Canes have won four of the last five meetings between the sides after previously enduring a run of one win in 11 against the Crusaders. Those four wins have been by a combined margin of 12 points. The Crusaders won their last away fixture, however their previous two away wins were each followed by back-to-back away defeats. The Hurricanes (94.1 percent) and Crusaders (94 percent) rank first and second for scrum success rate this season. The Hurricanes (12) and Crusaders (10) have scored the most tries when starting out with the ball inside their own half. The Hurricanes' reinforced forward pack is what has changed them from pretenders to contenders and will see them edge the Crusaders in an arm-wrestle - by less than 10 points.
Hurricanes: 15 Nehe Milner-Skudder, 14 Cory Jane, 13 Conrad Smith (captain), 12 Ma'a Nonu, 11 Julian Savea, 10 Beauden Barrett, 9 TJ Perenara, 8 Brad Shields, 7 Ardie Savea, 6 Callum Gibbins, 5 James Broadhurst, 4 Jeremy Thrush, 3 Ben Franks, 2 Motu Matu'u, 1 Reggie Goodes.
Replacements: 16 Dane Coles, 17 Jeffery Toomaga-Allen, 18 Chris Eves, 19 Mark Abbott, 20 Blade Thomson, 21 Chris Smylie, 22 Matt Proctor, 23 James Marshall.
Crusaders: 15 Tom Taylor, 14 David Havili, 13 Ryan Crotty, 12 Dan Carter, 11 Nemani Nadolo, 10 Colin Slade, 9 Andy Ellis, 8 Kieran Read (captain), 7 Matt Todd, 6 Jordan Taufua, 5 Sam Whitelock, 4 Luke Romano, 3 Owen Franks, 2 Codie Taylor, 1 Wyatt Crockett.
Replacements: 16 Ben Funnell, 17 Joe Moody, 18 Nepo Laulala, 19 Jimmy Tupou, 20 Luke Whitelock, 21 Mitchell Drummond, 22 Kieron Fonotia, 23 Nafi Tuitavake.
Referee: Mike Fraser (New Zealand)
Assistant referees: Shane McDermott (New Zealand), Jamie Nutbrown (New Zealand)
TMO: Aaron Paterson (New Zealand)
Rebels v Chiefs
(AAMI Park, Melbourne - Kick-off: 19:40; 21:40 NZST, 09:40 GMT)
The Rebels see themselves as genuine play-off contenders, even though most pundits regard them as also-rans.
The Melbourne-based outfit is 11th on the standings with 20 points, only eight points adrift of the sixth-placed Highlanders.
They are keen to show they are not just all talk and feel the Chiefs are the perfect opposition to prove their credentials.
Wallaby back Dom Shipperley said the Rebels are determined to make amends for last week's two-point loss to the defending champion Waratahs.
"We see this week as a week to get back on track and square up our ledger," Shipperley told the Herald Sun.
"We really need a launch pad to win a few games in a row and move up the table.
"The middle of the table is congested right now and three wins in a row can really move you up.
"That's what we're setting out to do and getting our momentum going this week."
The Chiefs have won all three previous encounters with the Rebels, but want to address defensive shortcomings after conceding four tries to the Western Force last week.
"We've certainly done a fair bit of work on defence," coach Dave Rennie said.
"The boys understand it needs to be a hell of a lot better this week."
The Chiefs are fourth on the overall table, but are just one point behind competition leaders the Hurricanes in the New Zealand conference.
2014: Chiefs won 22-16, Hamilton
2013: Chiefs won 39-33, Melbourne
2011: Chiefs won 38-10, Hamilton
Prediction: The Chiefs have won all three meetings between these two sides, however the last two yielded a losing bonus point. The Chiefs have won four in a row; their best run in a single campaign since racking up six straight victories in June 2013. The Hamilton-based side has won three of their last four away games, whilst their last three losses away from home have all been by fewer than five points. The Melbourne outfit has lost five of their last six against New Zealand teams, scoring over 20 points in just one of those games. The Rebels have scored the fewest second half tries this season (six), less than half as many as the Chiefs (13). The Chiefs rank joint third in terms of tries scored this season (27), while no side has scored fewer than the Rebels (15). The Rebels talk a good game, but we feel the Chiefs have too much class and should with by about 15 points.
Rebels: 15 Mike Harris, 14 Dom Shipperley, 13 Tamati Ellison, 12 Mitch Inman, 11 Sefanaia Naivalu, 10 Jack Debreczeni, 9 Nic Stirzaker, 8 Scott Higginbotham (captain), 7 Jordy Reid, 6 Sean McMahon, 5 Lopeti Timani, 4 Luke Jones, 3 Paul Alo-Emile, 2 Pat Leafa, 1 Toby Smith.
Replacements: 16 Tom Sexton, 17 Cruze Ah-Nau, 18 Tim Metcher, 19 Cadeyrn Neville, 20 Colby Fainga'a, 21 Luke Burgess, 22 Tom English, 23 Bryce Hegarty.
Chiefs: 15 Tom Marshall, 14 Tim Nanai-Williams, 13 Charlie Ngatai, 12 Sonny Bill Williams, 11 James Lowe, 10 Andrew Horrell, 9 Brad Weber, 8 Michael Leitch, 7 Sam Cane, 6 Liam Messam (captain), 5 Mike Fitzgerald, 4 Matt Symons, 3 Ben Tameifuna, 2 Hika Elliot, 1 Pauliasi Manu.
Replacements: 16 Quentin MacDonald, 17 Siate Tokolahi, 18 Jamie Mackintosh, 19 Michael Allardice, 20 Johan Bardoul, 21 Augustine Pulu, 22 Damian McKenzie, 23 Bryce Heem.
Referee: Andrew Lees (Australia)
Assistant referees: Angus Gardner (Australia), James Leckie (Australia)
TMO: Ian Smith (Australia)
Cheetahs v Stormers
(Free State Stadium, Bloemfontein - Kick-off: 17.05; 15.05 GMT)
The Stormers will be out to protect their lead in the South African conference against the unpredictable and very dangerous Cheetahs in Bloemfontein, where they haven't won since 2012.
The Cape Town-based Stormers leapfrogged the Bulls to the top of the conference with a 15-13 win last week.
Stormers coach Allister Coetzee said they will have the same mind-set as they do for all South African derbies.
"We understand how tough these games are and we know we need to pitch up," Coetzee told a media briefing in Cape Town.
"The Cheetahs pushed the in-form Lions in Johannesburg last week, they're a good side - especially in Bloemfontein - and we know this will be a tough match."
Cheetahs coach Naka Drotské made several changes to his backline from the team that went down to the Lions in Johannesburg last week.
Scrumhalf Sarel Pretorius is the only player who retains his spot, while Joe Pietersen moves back to flyhalf after wearing the No.15 jersey last week.
The Stormers are familiar with the threat posed by Pietersen, who was based in Cape Town for a decade - before moving to Biarritz in 2013 and then joined the Cheetahs this year.
"Joe Petersen will always have a massive influence, whichever team he plays for," Coetzee said.
"However, we don't focus on Joe. It has been a long time since he has been at the Stormers - a lot of things have changed since he was here.
"When he was here we played a kick and chase game, based on solid defence, and it has changed since then."
2014: Stormers won 33-0, Cape Town
2014: Cheetahs won 35-22, Bloemfontein
2013: Stormers won 28-3, Cape Town
2013: Cheetahs won 26-24, Bloemfontein
2012: Stormers won 13-6, Bloemfontein
2012: Stormers won 16-14, Cape Town
Prediction: The last four meetings between these two sides have been won by the home side on the day (two wins each). The Cheetahs have scored fewer than seven points in three of their last five games against the Stormers. The Stormers have won nine of the last 11 meetings between these conference rivals. In the most recent meeting between the teams the Stormers rendered the Cheetahs scoreless. It was the only time the Cheetahs have been blanked in Super Rugby. The Cheetahs have won a lower proportion of scrum feeds (80 percent) than any other side while the Stormers have produced the most scrum steals (six). The Cheetahs have averaged the most turnovers won this season (9.6). However, opponents of the Stormers have averaged fewer turnovers won (5.6) than against any other team. The Cheetahs have the ability to comeback even when they are down by two scores or more. That makes them dangerous. However, it the Stormers remain composed they should win by at least 10 points.
Cheetahs: 15 Clayton Blommetjies, 14 Ryno Benjamin, 13 Francois Venter, 12 Michael van der Spuy, 11 Sergeal Petersen, 10 Joe Pietersen, 9 Sarel Pretorius, 8 Willie Britz, 7 Johannes Prinsloo, 6 Tienie Burger, 5 Francois Uys (captain), 4 Carl Wegner, 3 Coenie Oosthuizen/Nicolaas van Dyk, 2 Torsten van Jaarsveld, 1 Caylib Oosthuizen.
Replacements: 16 Stephan Coetzee, 17 Dolph Botha, 18 Nicolaas van Dyk/Ewald van der Westhuizen, 19 Steven Sykes, 20 Carel Greeff, 21 Tian Meyer, 22 Francois Brummer, 23 Danie Dames.
Stormers: 15 Cheslin Kolbe, 14 Johnny Kotze, 13 Juan de Jongh, 12 Damian de Allende, 11 Dillyn Leyds, 10 Demetri Catrakilis, 9 Nic Groom, 8 Duane Vermeulen (captain), 7 Siya Kolisi, 6 Schalk Burger, 5 Ruan Botha, 4 Jean Kleyn, 3 Frans Malherbe, 2 Mbongeni Mbonambi, 1 Oliver Kebble.
Replacements: 16 Siyabonga Ntubeni, 17 Alistair Vermaak, 18 Vincent Koch, 19 Manuel Carizza, 20 Nizaam Carr, 21 Louis Schreuder, 22 Kurt Coleman, 23 Huw Jones.
Referee: Craig Joubert
Assistant referees: Jason Jaftha and Rodney Boneparte
TMO: Johan Greeff
Bulls v Lions
(Loftus Versfeld, Pretoria - Kick-off: 19.10; 17.10 GMT)
The return of veteran Victor Matfield grabbed the headlines, but it is a match that is crucial to both teams' campaigns in the tightly-contested South African conference.
Just four points separate the Stormers - first in the conference - and the Lions.
It means by the end of the weekend the Lions could find themselves at the top of the SA conference - if they get a bonus point win at Loftus and the Cheetahs upstage the Stormers, while also prevents the Cape Town outfit from getting any points.
The Bulls just needs a win to reclaim their place at the top of the SA totem pole, but only if the Cheetahs win.
Despite last week's loss - when Stormers captain Duane Vermeulen charged down a last-minute drop-goal attempt by Handré Pollard - the Bulls feel they are playing well enough to remain in the play-off race.
"We are getting into the rhythm to play the type of match we want to play," Bulls coach Frans Ludeke said.
"Our defence structure is good and we are very competitive in every match we play.
"We need to tweak some aspects of our game though, but I am confident that we are creating a style of play that will make us contenders in the play-off stages of the competition."
The Bulls know they are going to be tested by a Lions team that is once again full of running and willing to go the full 80 minutes ... and then some.
Bulls captain Victor Matfield said they are facing a team that expresses their personality on the field.
"We are also a squad that are proud of being the most successful local franchise ever," Matfield said.
However, you are only as good as your last match though and we came up short then.
"We need a solid performance before we go on tour, so a win is pretty much non-negotiable."
2015: Lions won 22-18, Johannesburg
2014: Lions won 32-21, Johannesburg
2014: Bulls won 25-17, Pretoria
2012: Bulls won 37-20, Pretoria
2012: Bulls won 32-18, Johannesburg
2011: Bulls won 30-23, Pretoria
2011: Bulls won 24-20, Johannesburg
Prediction: After previously being winless in 11 games against the Bulls, the Lions have won the last two contests between these rivals. The last eight encounters between the Bulls and Lions have seen at least 40 points scored per game and an average of 50. The Bulls have lost just two of their last 24 home games in the regular season, with their back-to-back home defeats at the start of the season the only blemishes on that record. The Lions have won five Super Rugby matches in a row for the first time, though each of these wins came by margins of five or less. The Lions have scored the fewest first half tries (five) in 2015 and less than half as many as the Bulls (12). The Lions do have a very good chance of causing an upset, but this is at Loftus Versfeld and the smart money is on the Bulls to win a thriller by less than 10 points.
Bulls: 15 Jesse Kriel, 14 Francois Hougaard, 13 JJ Engelbrecht, 12 Jan Serfontein, 11 Bjorn Basson, 10 Handré Pollard, 9 Piet van Zyl, 8 Arno Botha, 7 Jacques du Plessis, 6 Pieter Labuschagne, 5 Victor Matfield (captain), 4 Flip van der Merwe, 3 Marcel van der Merwe, 2 Adriaan Strauss, 1 Trevor Nyakane.
Replacements: 16 Callie Visagie, 17 Morné Mellett, 18 Andrew Beerwinkel, 19 Grant Hattingh, 20 Pierre Spies, 21 Tian Schoeman, 22 Burger Odendaal, 23 Jurgen Visser.
Lions: 15 Marnitz Boshoff, 14 Ruan Combrinck, 13 Harold Vorster, 12 Howard Mnisi, 11 Andries Coetzee, 10 Elton Jantjies, 9 Francois de Klerk, 8 Warren Whiteley (captain), 7 Warwick Tecklenburg, 6 Jaco Kriel, 5 Franco Mostert, 4 Andries Ferreira, 3 Julian Redelinghuys, 2 Robbie Coetzee, 1 Jacques van Rooyen
Replacements: 16 Armand van der Merwe, 17 Corne Fourie, 18 Ruan Dreyer, 19 Luvuyiso Lusaseni, 20 Robert Kruger, 21 Ross Cronje, 22 Alwyn Hollenbach, 23 Courtnall Skosan.
Referee: Marius van der Westhuizen (South Africa)
Assistant referees: Jaco Peyper (South Africa), Stephan Geldenhuys (South Africa)
TMO: Deon van Blommestein (South Africa)
Compiled by Jan de Koning
Statistical information provided by Opta Sports
The Hurricanes survived on meagre possession and with a misfiring line-out to down the Crusaders 29-23 in a high octane clash.