Cape Town - The Sharks will have their sights set on cementing the top spot on the Currie Cup Premier Division log this weekend in what will be a decisive round for all six sides in action, with only two pool rounds remaining after this weekend.
The Sharks, Griquas and Pumas have only two matches left to seal their fate in the competition, while the other four teams still have three matches to play.
While the Mpumalanga side have a bye this week and the KwaZulu-Natalians boast a comfortable 13 point cushion at the top of the table, their Kimberley counterparts find themselves in a tough position as they could drop out of the race even if they win both their remaining matches with bonus points.
In Durban, the Sharks will be hunting their 10th victory in a row when they host the Golden Lions, who come off three successive wins. They may, however, have to work hard for a win as the visitors will be equally determined to register a victory to remain in the top four on the standings.
The coastal side won the last outing between the sides in Johannesburg, but the Golden Lions won their four match-ups prior to that.
The Sharks made two changes to their team, with hooker Franco Marais replacing Chiliboy Ralepelle, who is on Springbok duty, and centre Tristan Blewett takes over from the injured Jeremy Ward, while the Golden Lions made three personnel changes, which sees lock Rhyno Herbst, No 8 Fabian Booysen and winger Aphiwe Dyanti start.
Griquas will be determined to bounce back from five consecutive defeats when they host the Free State Cheetahs in Kimberley on Saturday, while the visitors will look to build on their win last week to remain in second place on the log.
the hosts’ last victory in the tournament was against their neighbours
from Bloemfontein, but the Free State Cheetahs will draw
from the fact that have only suffered two defeats against Griquas since 2011.
The Griquas team shows 10 personnel changes, six of which are among the forwards, while captain and fullback AJ Coertzen makes a welcome return among the backs. The Free State Cheetahs, in turn, named the same side that pipped the Pumas last week.
The clash between the Blue Bulls and Western Province in Pretoria on Sunday will be equally entertaining as the hosts are under pressure to win their remaining matches after back-to-back defeats, while the visitors will want to build on their 55-point haul last week and remain in the top three on the standings.
Capetonians won the last match between the sides, but the Blue
Bulls won three of their last four matches at Loftus Versfeld, which
they will want
to build on. The clash will be particularly significant for Blue
Bulls hooker Edgar Marutlulle and flyhalf Marnitz Boshoff, both of whom
will earn their 50th Currie Cup caps.