PRETORIA, SOUTH AFRICA - JULY 27, Francois Hougaard of the Bulls during the SupeRugby semi final match between Vodacom Bulls and Brumbies from Loftus Versfeld Stadium on July 27, 2013 in Pretoria, South Africa. (Photo by Lee Warren/Gallo Images)

The battle of Bloemfontein promises to be a hard-fought affair between the Cheetahs and the Bulls at the Free State Stadium tonight.

Both sides had an indifferent start to the competition and will want to quickly get their campaign back on track.

With the teams still reeling from defeat during the opening weekend of Super Rugby, none can afford to drop points for the second week in a row.

While the Cheetahs suffered a shock loss at the hands of the Lions, they did manage to walk away with a point for losing within seven points of their opponents.

The Bulls, on the other hand, left Durban with nothing from the Sharks clash.

The Bulls, however, were hit with a late disruption to their plans with the withdrawal of captain Pierre Spies due to injury.

Both teams want to set the record straight and prove to themselves, the fans and detractors that they are far better teams than last weekend’s results suggest.

For the Cheetahs, though, the task is mammoth.

They face a Bulls team they have not beaten in Super Rugby and though this is not the strongest Bulls side yet, getting over the psychological barrier of a six-year winless streak will be a monumental task.

The Cheetahs will also carry the burden of self-doubt after letting slip a game they should have won comfortably last week.

The Bulls want to capitalise on the vulnerability of the Cheetahs but, more importantly, it will be about rectifying all that went wrong in Durban and make sure they walk away with victory.

Victory will ensure they get to within touching distance of the log leaders.

Bulls coach Frans Ludeke said his team were not at their best last week. He believes the Cheetahs present his team with the perfect opportunity at redemption.

“We would like to execute better, that’s where you get results,” said Ludeke. “We know we can play a lot better than we did last weekend. This will be a vital game to get our campaign back on course.”

And the Bulls will throw everything in their arsenal to leave Bloemfontein with maximum points, and they will even encourage the likes of Springboks Francois Hougaard and Jan Serfontein the freedom to express themselves to gain the edge over the Cheetahs’ expansive game. “We encourage players who have the ability to cut the line and break defences open to express themselves. A line break normally leads to a penalty or a try,” Ludeke said.

Bulls: Jürgen Visser, Akona Ndungane, JJ Engelbrecht, Jan Serfontein, Bjorn Basson, Louis Fouché, Francois Hougaard, Jacques Engelbrecht, Jacques du Plessis, Jono Ross, Grant Hattingh, Flip van der Merwe (capt), Werner Kruger, Callie Visagie, Dean Greyling. Replacements: Bongi Mbonambi, Frik Kirsten, Marcel van der Merwe, Victor Matfield, Wiaan Liebenberg, Piet van Zyl, Handré Pollard, Ulrich Beyers.

Cheetahs: Willie le Roux, Cornal Hendricks, Johan Sadie, Francois Venter, Raymond Rhule, Johan Goosen, Shaun Venter, Philip van der Walt, Lappies Labuschagne, Boom Prinsloo, Francois Uys, Lood de Jager, Coenie Oosthuizen, Adriaan Strauss (capt), Caylib Oosthuizen. Replacements: Ryno Barnes, Trevor Nyakane, Max van Dyk, Rynard Landman, Jean Cooke, Sarel Pretorius, Elgar Watts, Hennie Daniller - The Star