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Super Rugby
Pierre Spies withdraws from Bulls side for Cheetahs
ESPN Staff
February 19, 2014
Greg Growden and Russell Barwick preview the weekend's Super Rugby action
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Greg Growden's team-by-team preview

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Pierre Spies has withdrawn from the Bulls side to play the Cheetahs in Bloemfontein having failed to overcome an elbow injury sustained against the Sharks in their Super Rugby-opening defeat.

Flip van der Merwe will captain the team in Spies' absence, while Jacques Engelbrecht, signed from Southern Kings last year, replaces him in the starting side. Former South Africa Under-20 captain Wian Liebenberg steps onto the bench.

Bulls coach Frans Ludeke, meanwhile, has rejected criticism of his tactics against the Sharks, saying he was right to use a kicking game in hot conditions in Durban. Bulls outside backs Bjorn Basson, Akona Ndungane and JJ Engelbrecht ran collectively for just 28 metres as the Bulls kicked most of their ball away, but Ludeke blamed the decision-making process - when to kick and when to run - rather than the tactics for the side's 31-16 mauling.

"It is about decision-making," Ludeke told supersport. "We will get better with every game and we are aware of it. But to use the boot to get out of your own half is a principle of the game, but we do need to look at our decision-making.

"We had mixed results with the kicking game, I thought we forced some good turnovers there, but it was just the conditions. It was tough to carry the ball and [the Sharks] didn't carry the ball either.

"We gave them some soft tries. They had four opportunities in the first half, only four in our half of the field and two of them were thanks to our mistakes which led to tries. It was part of the tactics to get field position first and work from there - it worked for us, we got a lot of opportunities, but our finishing let us down."


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