A replay of last year's Currie Cup final between the Sharks and Western Province in Cape Town, as well as a battle to avoid last place on the log between the Blue Bulls and the Pumas in Nelspruit feature this weekend.
The Blue Bulls, currently in last place on the Currie Cup log, return to the scene of last season's biggest upset when they travel to Nelspruit to take on the Pumas at the Mbombela Stadium on Friday.
The champions from 2009 are under huge pressure after they've won only one game out of their first four this season. Last weekend the log-topping Golden Lions won at Loftus Versfeld, the Bulls' first home defeat since they lost to the Cheetahs in the third round last year.
But the Pumas, who shocked the Bulls in the very first Currie Cup match at the Mbombela Stadium last year (22-21), are also under huge pressure. They are the only side yet to have won a game this season and only top the Bulls on the log thanks to a better points' difference.
"We're under huge pressure, but there are still 10 games left to turn things around. But we have to start this weekend and the Pumas are the first team in our way en route to that goal," Blue Bulls coach Pine Pienaar said.
"We also have not forgotten what happened in Nelspruit last year, but for now it's more important for us to try and improve our position on the log. We can't give the Pumas time and space, and they can also fight back, like they showed against Griquas, so it won't be easy. But a team like this one can't be last on the log."
The Leopards will be hoping to take the momentum from their victory last weekend with them to Kimberley when they take on Griquas on Friday.
But the home team will line up with huge confidence after their superb victory over the defending champions, the Sharks, in the Northern Cape last weekend. Griquas delivered their best performance of the season as they beat the KwaZulu-Natalians by 43-22 and based on that performance, have to be the favourites this weekend.
Leon Boshoff, coach of the Platinum, said: "It was great getting that win and not having to go back to the drawing board on a Monday. This week we could build on the things we've been working on that came right against the Pumas, and it was wonderful to see how a victory brought out a new attitude in the players.
"But it won't be easy in Kimberley. Griquas are a very good side and Abré Minnie is going a great job with them. It will be a hard game and entertaining but one we're looking forward to. It's crucial for both teams, with the midway mark looming and we'd like to improve our standing on the log, even though we can't catch them."
In a replay of last year's Currie Cup final Western Province host the Sharks at Newlands in Cape Town on Friday.
Both teams lost their games in Central South Africa last weekend, Province falling to the Cheetahs in Bloemfontein, and Griquas getting the better of the Sharks in Kimberley.
"After beating them well in the Currie Cup final, they gave us a hiding in the Super Rugby match in Cape Town earlier this year, so it's a bit of cat and mouse between us," said Sharks assistant coach Grant Bashford.
"Both teams play with the right intent, we just need to go down then and get the ship back on the right course. We've both come off away losses and both want to get back on track. It's a home game for them and they'll be desperate as they won't want to lose at home."
The only unbeaten team left in the competition, the Lions, host the Cheetahs at Coca-Cola Park on Saturday in a replay of the 2007-final.
After four rounds in 2011, the Lions top the log. They were impressive in their victory over the Bulls in Pretoria last weekend and will want to build on that against the Cheetahs, who won the last of their four Currie Cup titles four years ago.
Cheetahs coach Naka Drotske is under no illusions about the importance of Saturday's game for both sides.
"I would say the Lions are the form team in the Currie Cup at the moment. They are playing superb rugby and it will be very difficult for us in Johannesburg," said Drotske.
"We were under pressure after the two away-defeats to the Bulls and the Sharks, but made up for it against WP last weekend. We do realise we probably let a good victory slip against the Bulls and would like to make up for that one.
"We've taken a lot of confidence from the victory over WP and after the tight defeat to the Bulls, it's what the players needed.
"Losing Andries Strauss and Hennie Daniller to injuries this week has been a setback, but luckily Corné Uys is an experienced replacement at inside centre, Robert Ebersohn is back at outside centre and Riaan Smit has gained a lot of valuable experience in Super Rugby. I have a lot of confidence in these players."
All the weekend's fixtures, predictions and teams:
Friday, August 12
Pumas v Blue Bulls
(Mbombela Stadium, Nelspruit - Kick-off: 17.05; 15.05 GMT)
Prediction: The Bulls won't be enjoying their time in the basement of the log and the team's proud reputation will life the players. While the Pumas will battle hard in Nelspruit, the Bulls have a number of Springboks back in their ranks who need a good performance to keep any hope of World Cup selection alive. The Bulls will come hard and the Pumas will roll over in the second half. Bulls by more than 15.
Pumas: 15 Carl Bezuidenhout, 14 Deon Scholtz, 13 JW Jonker, 12 Tian Meyer, 11 MJ Mentz, 10 Ricardo Croy, 9 Shaun Venter, 8 Christo le Roux, 7 Jaco Bouwer, 6 Corne Steenkamp (captain), 5 Marius Coetzer, 4 Eduan van der Walt, 3 Ashley Buys, 2 Marthinus van der Westhuizen, 1 Dawie Steyn.
Replacements: 16 Torsten van Jaarsveld, 17 De-Jay Terblanche, 18 Rudi Mathee, 19 RW Kember, 20 Hendrik van der Nest, 21 Tiaan Marx, 22 Johan Jackson.
Blue Bulls: 15 Jurgen Visser, 14 Akona Ndungane, 13 Zane Kirchner, 12 Wynand Olivier, 11 Bjorn Basson, 10 Marnitz Boshoff, 9 Jano Vermaak, 8 CJ Stander, 7 Dewald Potgieter (captain), 6 Deon Stegmann, 5 Juandré Kruger, 4 Flip van der Merwe, 3 Werner Kruger, 2 Chiliboy Ralepelle, 1 Dean Greyling.
Replacements: 16 Gary Botha, 17 Rossouw de Klerk, 18 Gerrit-Jan van Velze, 19 Arno Botha, 20 Dustin Jinka, 21 Louis Fouché, 22 Francois Venter.
Referee: Lourens van der Merwe
Griquas v Leopards
(GWK Park, Kimberley - Kick-off: 19.00; 17.00 GMT)
Prediction: Kimberley is one of the most difficult places to travel too in the Currie Cup and Griquas are often a different prospect at home to on the road. The Leopards victory last week will have built up some belief in the team, but Griquas have both belief and muscle. Griquas to walk away with a easy win.
Griquas: 15 Rudi Vogt, 14 Riaan Viljoen, 13 Jean Stemmet, 12 Barry Geel, 11 Dusty Noble, 10 Earl Rose, 9 Marnus Hugo, 8 Burger Schoeman, 7 Davon Raubenheimer, 6 Jonathan Mokuena (captain)/Justin Downey, 5 Martin Muller, 4 Hendrik Roodt, 3 Lourens Adriaanse, 2 Ryno Barnes, 1 Jean Botha.
Replacements: 16 Matthew Dobson, 17 Ivann Espag, 18 Frikkie Spies, 19 Downey/Marnus Schoeman, 20 Matthew Rosslee, 21 Monty Dumond, 22 Wilmaure Louw.
Leopards: 15 Clayton Durand, 14 George Tossel, 13 Charl Weideman, 12 Joubert Engelbrecht, 11 Vainon Willis, 10 Wesley Dunlop, 9 Whestley Moolman, 8 Morne Hanekom (captain), 7 Luvuyiso Lusaseni, 6 Philip De Wet, 5 Christo Van Niekerk, 4 Brendon Snyman, 3 Stephan Bezuidenhout, 2 Gavin Williamson, 1 BG Uys.
Replacements: 16 Marius Fourie, 17 Berend Botha, 18 Roelof Van Heerden, 19 Spanner Pretorius, 20 Theo van Wyk, 21 Walter Venter, 22 Jovan Bowles.
Referee: Joey Salmans
Western Province v Sharks
(Newlands, Cape Town - Kick-off: 19.10; 17.10 GMT)
Prediction: Bruised egos are a dangerous thing in a quality side and Province and the Sharks have more than enough quality in their ranks. The two exciting backlines will look to run, with a pair of skillful loose trios that will thrive in an open game. The Freddie Michalak, Pat Lambie combination will have the edge with a bigger arsenal than young Demetri Catrakilis. Sharks to edge it in a tight thriller.
Western Province: 15 Conrad Jantjes, 14 Danie Poolman, 13 Johann Sadie, 12 Tim Whitehead, 11 JJ Engelbrecht, 10 Demetri Catrakilis, 9 Dewaldt Duvenage, 8 Nick Köster, 7 Siya Kolisi, 6 Rohan Kitshoff, 5 De Kock Steenkamp, 4 Hilton Lobberts, 3 Brok Harris, 2 Deon Fourie (captain), 1 Steven Kitshoff.
Replacements: 16 Tiaan Liebenberg, 17 Frans Malherbe, 18 Adriaan Fondse, 19 Pieter Louw, 20 Nic Groom, 21 Berton Klaasen, 22 Marcel Brache.
Sharks: 15 Louis Ludik, 14 Odwa Ndungane, 13 Stefan Terblanche, 12 Patrick Lambie, 11 Lwazi Mvovo, 10 Frederic Michalak, 9 Charl McLeod, 8 Ryan Kankowski, 7 Marcell Coetzee, 6 Keegan Daniel (captain), 5 Ross Skeate, 4 Anton Bresler, 3 Eugene van Staden, 2 Craig Burden, 1 Dale Chadwick.
Replacements: 16 Kyle Cooper, 17 Wiehahn Herbst, 18 Jan Andre Marais, 19 Jacques Botes, 20 Conrad Hoffmann, 21 Adrian Jacobs, 22 Marius Joubert.
Referee: Lourens van der Merwe
Saturday, August 13
Golden Lions v Cheetahs
(Cocoa-Cola Park, Johannesburg - Kick-off: 19.10; 17.10 GMT)
Prediction: The Lions and the Cheetahs teams are similar in their make-up and style of play. The Lions fantastic unbeaten run will spur them on, although the Cheetahs flattened them in their Super Rugby clash in Johannesburg. It'll be a high scoring attack-minded game, but the Lions defence is marginally stronger giving them the edge. Lions by less than 5.
Lions: 15 Jaco Taute, 14 Deon van Rensburg, 13 Lionel Mapoe, 12 Alwyn Hollenbach, 11 Michael Killian, 10 Elton Jantjies, 9 Michael Bondesio, 8 Joshua Strauss (captain), 7 Derick Minnie, 6 Cobus Grobbelaar, 5 Franco van der Merwe, 4 Wikus van Heerden, 3 Jacobie Adriaanse, 2 Bandise Maku, 1 JC Janse van Rensburg.
Replacements: 16 Martin Bezuidenhout, 17 Patric Cilliers, 18 Johan Snyman, 19 Warren Whiteley, 20 Rudy Paige, 21 Burton Francis, 22 Jannie Boshoff.
Free State Cheetahs: 15 Riaan Smit, 14 Phillip Snyman, 13 Robert Ebersohn, 12 Corné Uys, 11 Rayno Benjamin, 10 Sias Ebersohn, 9 Piet van Zyl, 8 Ashley Johnson, 7 Pieter Labuschagne, 6 Johan Wessels, 5 Waltie Vermeulen, 4 Francois Uys, 3 WP Nel, 2 Adriaan Strauss (captain), 1 Coenie Oosthuizen.
Replacements: 16 Hercu Liebenberg, 17 Marcel van der Merwe, 18 Izak van der Westhuizen, 19 Pieter Myburgh, 20 Tewis de Bruyn, 21 Nico Scheepers, 22 Philip Burger.
Referee: Jason Jaftha
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