Countdown to the play-off of the Currie Cup starts this weekend with round of matches headlined by a top of the table clash between top of the table Sharks and Bulls at the Kings Park Stadium in Durban on Friday night.
In other important matches of the weekend, second from the bottom Lions will be looking for the much needed win when they visit hugely improved and third-placed Griquas at the Tafel Lager Park in Kimberley also on Friday afternoon.
The last match of the weekend sees Western Province and the Cheetahs lock horns at Newlands Stadium in the Mother City where both teams will be under pressure to win the match so that they remain closer to the top four.
Western Province are currently in fifth place and the Cheetahs, who have a game in hand, are sitting dangerously at the foot of the table and they will be looking for a repeat the sixth-round where they delivered a superb performance to win by 38-21 in Bloemfontein.
Griquas VS Lions
This match will be a special occasion for midfielder Burger Odendaal who will be running out in his 50th Currie Cup match when they take on the highly unpredictable Griquas at their home ground in Kimberley on Friday.
The Lions hit the road with bitter memories of the last meeting between the two sides still fresh in their memories as they Griquas ran out 41-31 winners a few weeks ago in round six when they visited Ellis Park.
Over the years, the Griquas have proved to be extremely difficult to beat in Kimberley and the Lions, who have struggled with injuries to key players of late, will have to be at their very best to get the much needed win.
Pick: Griquas Wins by 0.50 at BetXChange
Sharks VS Bulls
Sharks head coach Sean Everitt has made a number of changes for this match by bringing in Khutha Mchunu for Lourens Adriaanse at loosehead prop and back-rowers Dylan Richardson for James Venter and Henco Venter to replace Mpilo Gumede.
There are two changes in the backline with Grant Williams returning to the starting line-up in the place of Sanele Nohamba who has dropped to the bench, Lionel Cronje will come in at flyhalf and Curwin Bosch shifting to fullback to replace Anthony Volmink who has been named amongst the reserves.
With livewire hooker Johan Grobbelaar having been called up to the Springbok camp this week, Schalk Erasmus has been promoted to the starting XV where he will be joined by Lizo Gqoboka and Mornay Smith as part of the new front row combination.
The versatile Cornal Hendricks will make a return to inside centre this week where he will partner Harold Vorster who switches to No.13.
In the backline, Stedman Gans has returned from the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games where he represented the SA Sevens side and will slot in at left wing with ‘live-wire’ Madosh Tambwe also making a return.
Pick: Bulls Wins by 0.50 at BetXChange
Western Province VS Cheetahs
If Western Province win get the better of the bottom of the standings Cheetahs on their home ground in the only match scheduled for Saturday, they will leapfrog the Pumas, who have a bye this week, to fourth place.
Though Western Province will be looking for the much needed win to keep their play-offs hopes alive, the Cheetahs have travelled to the Mother City also intending to register their third win of the season and possibly move from the foot of the table.
To get the all-important win away from home, the Cheetahs will pin their hopes on the likes of captain Ruan Pienaar, Clayton Blommetjies, Siya Masuku, Junior Pokomela, Marnus van der Merwe and Aluluthu Tshakweni.
Pick: Western Province Wins by 0.50 at BetXChange