It’s do or die in the final round of the Currie Cup on Saturday with three teams still involved in knock-out matches to determine who will join the Bulls and Sharks in the semi-finals.
Things are so tight that the full semi-final list will only be confirmed after the final match of the weekend between the Sharks and Western Province in Durban.
In that match, a win for the Capetonians should be enough to secure them a spot in the playoffs but they will miss out on finishing in the top four, for only the second time since 2008, if they fail to knock over the already qualified Sharks.
Griquas VS Pumas
The first game of the weekend will set the tone when third-placed and highly unpredictable Griquas host the fourth-placed Pumas in Kimberley where they have been extremely difficult to beat this and clamed some notable scalps.
Both these sides have enjoyed an excellent run this season and can still qualify for the semi-finals, regardless of the result in the Northern Cape, which will be excellent return given that they performed much better than some of their more fancied opponents.
When they clashed in the third round at the Mbombela Stadium in Nelspruit, the Lowvelders snuck through by 26-22, but having won their matches last weekend, both will be confident for Saturday’s encounter.
Pick: Griquas Wins by 0.64 at BetXChange
Bulls VS Cheetahs
Bulls coach Jake White has made a number changes to the starting XV to take on the Cheetahs who have been eliminated from the race for the semi-final.
In some of the changes to the team that claimed a 26-33 victory over the Pumas at Mbombela Stadium a fortnight ago, the backline will see the return of David Kriel at fullback where he takes the place of Sibongile Novuka.
Madosh Tambwe has been included at wing where he replaces Stravino Jacobs while at scrumhalf Zak Burger is rested as Marco Jansen van Vuren takes over the reins.
In the forwards pack, Jan-Hendrik Wessels will buckle down at hooker with Schalk Erasmus providing cover on the bench this week, while WJ Steenkamp gets a starting berth at blindside flank.
On the bench, winger Ruan Combrinck will make his long-awaited appearance since joining the side at the start of July. The Springbok is set to add firepower and experience should he take to the field.
The Free Staters will only playing for pride against the defending champions who have lost only once at Loftus in the last year when they hosted Western Province with a depleted side in the opening round of the 2021 competition.
Pick: Bulls Wins by 0.09 at BetXChange
Sharks VS Western Province
With one last push before the Currie Cup semi-finals next week, this Saturday’s match against Western Province at Kings Park is vital for maintaining the great form the team has shown over the last few weeks as they look to build before the knockouts.
The Sharks have an unassailable lead in second place on the Currie Cup log while Western Province are chasing a top four finish where they find themselves in fifth position.
Sharks head coach Sean Everitt has made several changes to last week’s side by bringing in a new front row of Ntuthuko Mchunu, Kerron van Vuuren and Khutha Mchunu for Khwezi Mona, Dan Jooste and Lourens Adriaanse respectively.
Le Roux Roets joins Gerbrandt Grobler in the second row in place of Emile van Heerden and James Venter replaces Dylan Richardson in the final change to the pack.
Amongst the backs, Grant Williams, having been called up to the Springbok squad, has been replaced by Sanele Nohamba while there is a new centre partnership with Murray Koster Werner and Kok taking over from Marius Louw and Jeremy Ward.
The final change sees Curwin Bosch in for Anthony Volmink at fullback.
For Western Province, there are five changes to the forward pack in this match where they require a win in order to qualify for the play-offs.
Up front there are two new props in Leon Lyons and Neethling Fouche starting on either side of hooker Andre-Hugo Venter.
Johan du Toit shofts from the loose trio into the second row, with flanks Deon Fourie and Marcel Theunissen coming into the starting line-up on the side of the scrum.
In the backline Juan de Jongh comes back in at outside centre and Ruhan Nel moves out to the right wing, with Sergeal Petersen at fullback in place of Warrick Gelant who has a minor injury niggle.
Western Province Head Coach John Dobson said that his team is ready to put everything they have into what is a must-win game.
Pick: Sharks Wins by 0.28 at BetXChange