The Blue Bulls have a tough task if they want to keep alive their Currie Cup semifinal hopes when they travel to Johannesburg on Saturday to face the table-topping Golden Lions.
On Friday in Cape Town Western Province host the resurgent Free State Cheetahs in a tricky encounter for the home team, after the side from Bloemfontein crushed The Sharks last weekend.
In the two other games of the weekend, Griquas travel to Durban to face The Sharks, still hurting from their defeat in Bloemfontein last week, while both the Pumas and the Leopards will be aiming for their second victory of the season in Nelspruit.
We look at all the Round 11 action!
Friday, September 23:
Sharks v Griquas
(Kings Park, Durban - 19.10; 17.10 GMT)
The Sharks will be looking to build momentum as the Currie Cup semifinals inch closer when they play Griquas at in Durban on Friday.
While the Sharks are currently third on the log, a win over Griquas can push them into second position, but the team from the Northern Cape, in fifth position, can also still make it into the semifinals.
Sharks assistant coach Hugh Reece-Edwards knows they need to improve from last weekend's performance if they are going to successfully defend their Currie Cup title.
"We can't go into the play-offs performing poorly. We are still in the top three and that's after playing both good and bad rugby. That shows that we have something, but we've also let ourselves down at times, and now we just need to get that belief back," he said.
"We haven't been looking at the opposition and what they're doing on the log, we need to find our own way and if we want to win this competition, we need to do better.
"I think Griquas will come down here desperate for the win that would keep them in line to secure a top four spot and they will come with the added confidence brought about by the fact that they beat us in the first round and quite convincingly. Making the semifinals would be a huge thing for them," said Reece-Edwards.
Prediction: It should be an easy win for the Sharks - by 15 points.
The Sharks: 15 Stefan Terblanche, 14 Sibusiso Sithole, 13 Marius Joubert, 12 Meyer Bosman, 11 Lwazi Mvovo, 10 Frederic Michalak, 9 Ross Cronje, 8 Keegan Daniel (captain), 7 Jean Deysel, 6 Jacques Botes, 5 Alistair Hargreaves, 4 Anton Bresler, 3 Eugene van Staden, 2 Kyle Cooper, 1 Dale Chadwick.
Replacements: 16 Monde Hadebe, 17 Wiehahn Herbst, 18 Ross Skeate, 19 Marcell Coetzee, 20 Charl McLeod, 21 Adrian Jacobs, 22 Louis Ludik.
Griquas: 15 Riaan Viljoen, 14 Dusty Noble, 13 Wilmaure Louw, 12 Matthew Rosslee, 11 Rocco Jansen, 10 Earl Rose, 9 Marnus Hugo, 8 Jonathan Mokuena (captain), 7 Davon Raubenheimer, 6 Justin Downey, 5 Frikkie Spies, 4 Hendrik Roodt, 3 Lourens Adriaanse, 2 Ryno Barnes, 1 Ivann Espag.
Replacements: 16 Simon Westraadt, 17 Steph Roberts, 18 Leon Karemaker, 19 Marnus Schoeman, 20 Hanno Coetzee, 21 Monty Dumond, 22 Rudi Vogt.
Referee: Jason Jaftha
Assistant referees: Christie du Preez, Stefan Breytenbach
TMO: Gerrie Coetzee
Pumas v Leopards
(Mbombela Stadium, Nelspruit - 19.00; 17.00 GMT)
Injuries have wreaked havoc at both the Pumas and the Leopards this season. The two teams at the bottom of the Currie Cup Premier Division face each other at the Mbombela Stadium in Nelspruit on Friday evening.
The Pumas will be confident after securing their first victory of the season last weekend in Kimberley, while the Leopards hold the edge over the team from Mpumalanga after winning their first-round encounter.
Leopards coach Leon Boshoff realises his team have a big task on their hands against a Puma-side that have been unlucky in a number of their games so far this season.
"With all our injuries, this game against the Pumas will be a very big test of character, but we've shown a lot of character so far this season and I'm confident the guys can do it again," said Boshoff.
Last year the Pumas won both their encounters against the Leopards, but the side from North West turned the tide earlier this season in Potchefstroom.
Prediction: This is a tough one to call, but with home ground advantage the Pumas should sneak a win - by 10 points or less.
Pumas: 15 MJ Mentz, 14 Wilhelm Loock, 13 JW Jonker, 12 Siviwe Magaba, 11 Johan Jackson, 10 Coenie van Wyk, 9 Shaun Venter, 8 Christo le Roux, 7 Jaco Bouwer, 6 Corné Steenkamp (captain), 5 Marius Coetzer, 4 Willem Serfontein, 3 Brett Nel, 2 Torsten van Jaarsveld, 1 Dawie Steyn.
Replacements: 16 Marthinus van der Westhuizen, 17 Michael de Nieully Rice, 18 Eduan van der Walt, 19 JP Mostert, 20 Hendrik van der Nest, 21 Dewald Pretorius, 22 Carl Bezuidenhout.
Leopards: 15 George Tossel, 14 Hoffmann Maritz, 13 Charl Weideman, 12 Joubert Engelbrecht (captain), 11 Jovan Bowles, 10 Wesley Dunlop, 9 Johann Laker, 8 Robert Kruger, 7 Dries van Schalkwyk, 6 Philip de Wet, 5 Bradley Mockford, 4 Brendon Snyman, 3 Bêrend Botha, 2 Gavin Williamson, 1 Jean Rossouw.
Replacements: 16 Marius Fourie, 17 Dewald Coetzee, 18 Juan Pretorius, 19 Roan van Heerden, 20 Liam Slatem, 21 Vainon Willis, 22 Clayton Durand.
Referee: Lesego Legoete
Assistant referees: Attie Buitendag, TBC
Saturday, September 24
Golden Lions v Blue Bulls
(Coca-Cola Park, Johannesburg - 15.00; 13.00 GMT)
Can the Blue Bulls keep their Currie Cup semifinal aspirations alive when they travel to in Johannesburg to take on the first-placed Golden Lions on Saturday?
That question will be answered when the two Gauteng sides clash in a game that can determine the course of the season for both sides.
A victory for the home team will put them in a good position to secure a home semifinal, while defeat for the visitors could see them miss out on the play-offs for the first time in a decade.
"I think the game will be special, obviously because it's our big derby game. It is a big challenge for us and something the guys look forward to," said Golden Lions captain Josh Strauss.
"We have had a good week, but we always know, it doesn't matter what the log looks like, the Blue Bulls will come for us. It is a massive game and we have to man up and pitch on the day."
Even though they are languishing in sixth place on the log, Pine Pienaar, coach of the Blue Bulls, is adamant his team are still in the race for the play-offs.
"We cannot look at other teams and hope for them to do us any favours. We need to knuckle down and beat the Lions, because only then we will remain in control of our destiny," said Pienaar.
Prediction: The Bulls are going to give the Lions a run for their money, but the home team is the more settled and confident of the two outfits and should sneak a late winner. The Lions by less than 10.
Lions: 15 Jaco Taute, 14 Deon van Rensburg, 13 Doppies la Grange, 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 Michael Rhodes, 3 Patric Cilliers, 2 Bandise Maku, 1 JC Janse van Rensburg.
Replacements: 16 Martin Bezuidenhout, 17 Jacobie Adriaanse, 18 David Bulbring, 19 Warren Whiteley, 20 Rudi Paige, 21 Burton Francis, 22 James Kamana.
Blue Bulls: 15 Zane Kirchner, 14 Born Basson, 13 Wynand Olivier, 12 Francois Venter, 11 Gerhard van den Heever, 10 Louis Fouché/Francois Brummer, 9 Jano Vermaak, 8 CJ Stander, 7 Jacques Potgieter, 6 Dewald Potgieter, 5 Juandré Kruger, 4 Flip van der Merwe, 3 Werner Kruger, 2 Gary Botha (captain), 1 Dean Greyling.
Replacements: 16 Willie Wepener, 17 Rossouw de Klerk, 18 Gerrit-Jan van Velze, 19 Arno Botha, 20 Dustin Jinka, 21 Francois Brummer/Marnitz Boshoff, 22 Jurgen Visser.
Referee: Lourens van der Merwe
Assistant referees: Jason Jaftha, Phillip Bosch
TMO: Johann Meuwesen
Western Province v Free State Cheetahs
(Newlands, Cape Town - 17.05; 15.05 GMT)
It will be a massive challenge against a team with their heads up, but one Western Province will be ready for when they take on the Free State Cheetahs at Newlands in Cape Town on Saturday.
While Province lost in Pretoria last weekend, the Free Staters played arguably their best rugby of the season as they beat The Sharks by 53-32 in Bloemfontein. It was a complete performance and WP are expecting more of the same this weekend.
Matthew Proudfoot, assistant coach of WP, says they know what to expect from the Cheetahs and will have to be at their best to stop them at Newlands.
"The Cheetahs will play how they have all season - they are looking to score tries and to play a running game. They play a very high impact game as well and then unleash the backs out wide. It is what they do well and it will be a huge challenge," said Proudfoot.
The home team have been plagued by injuries all season and have lost three more players this week, with Steven Kitshoff (prop), Nic Groom (scrumhalf) and Isma-eel Dollie (flyhalf) all out. Johann Sadie (centre) have been struggling with a stomach bug.
Proudfoot said: "Injuries are devastating for the players involved. Rugby is their livelihood and when it goes badly it has a lot of effect on them. It is sad to see a guy who is playing well go down injured and it is something that we have to manage with all the players.
"From the team perspective we need to look at the positives and see that it is an opportunity for another guy to put his hand up and take his chance in the side. In that sense Allister [Coetzee, WP head coach] has handled the situation really well and credit goes to him. If we had a different approach we may not have handled the situation so that is definitely a positive."
Prediction: Injuries could derail Western Province, especially against a Cheetahs team bristling with confidence. The Cheetahs to take this one, by 10 points or more.
Western Province: 15 Conrad Jantjes, 14 Danie Poolman, 13 Johann Sadie, 12 Marcel Brache, 11 JJ Engelbrecht, 10 Lionel Cronje, 9 Dewaldt Duvenage, 8 Nick Köster, 7 Tertius Daniller, 6 Nick Fenton-Wells, 5 De Kock Steenkamp, 4 Hilton Lobberts, 3 Brok Harris, 2 Tiaan Liebenberg (captain), 1 JD Moller.
Replacements: 16 Deon Fourie, 17 Frans Malherbe, 18 Nizaam Carr, 19 Siya Kolisi, 20 Louis Schreuder, 21 Berton Klaasen, 22 Heinrich Steyl.
Cheetahs: 15 Hennie Daniller, 14 Rayno Benjamin, 13 Robert Ebersohn, 12 Philip Snyman, 11 Cameron Jacobs, 10 Johan Goosen, 9 Piet van Zyl, 8 Ashley Johnson, 7 Boom Prinsloo, 6 Pieter Labuschagne, 5 Izak van der Westhuizen, 4 Wilhelm Steenkamp, 3 Coenie Oosthuizen, 2 Adriaan Strauss (captain), 1 Marcel van der Merwe.
Replacements: 16 Hercu Liebenberg, 17 Trevor Nyakane, 18 Francois Uys, 19 Johan Wessels, 20 Tewis de Bruyn, 21 Sias Ebersohn, 22 Andries Strauss.
Referee: Stuart Berry
Assistant referees: Tiaan Jonker, Reuben Rossouw
TMO: JC Fortuin
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