South African United Rugby Championship (URC) franchises will be in the hunt for a rare third clean sweep in a row when they take the field against a new set of European teams in the cross-hemisphere showpiece this weekend.
With an eye on climbing further up the table for playoff contention, the four domestic teams have made the most of their home ground advantage against their international rivals in the last two weeks.
South African teams have won all their eight home matches and with the four of the next five rounds being hosted in the country, they will be determined to capitalise further on this as they look to establish their positions on the top end of the log table.
Lions VS Ospreys
The Lions will kick off this round of fixtures against Ospreys in Johannesburg and this will be followed by a feast of action featuring seven matches, three of which will be hosted by the South African sides.
The Lions will unleash the Tshituka brothers against Ospreys in the United Rugby Championship (URC) clash at Emirates Airline Park on Friday and Francke Horn completes the new-look backrow combination from the No 6 position.
The Burger Odendaal-led side sees Rabz Maxwane come in for Stean Pienaar, who picked up an injury against Munster last weekend and scrumhalf Andre Warner returns to the side from replacements’ bench.
The Lions will have their sights set on extending their winning run at home to three matches and a win will mark their fifth victory of the season following a disappointing start to the competition, which is sure to inspire them going into the match.
Stormers VS Ulster
Seventh-placed Stormers will also look to maintain their presence at the top half of the standings when they meet Ulster at the Cape Town Stadium.
They will be determined to get something positive out of his match and improve their position because they have not won four home games in succession since 2018.
But they will be wary of the danger posed by their visitors, who are currently in second place on the log with 10 victories in 13 games and fresh off a four-match winning streak.
The Capetonians, however, will draw confidence from the fact that they scored 95 points in their last two matches against Cardiff and Zebre, but they will be cognisant of the fact that it will take nothing less than a fine performance all around against the Irishmen to come away with their seventh win of the season.
Sharks VS Edinburgh
After a good run of four bonus point victories in succession, Sharks coach Sean Everitt has stuck with the same team for this clash against Ulster as the battle for positions continues.
Springbok Ox Nche is welcomed back after missing last week’s game with his Ntuthuko Mchunu reverting to the bench.
The second change at fullback is forced by injury with Anthony Volmink coming in for Aphelele Fassi who left the field against Zebre last week with an ankle injury.
Everitt has opted for a six-two split on the bench due to the set-piece and forward dominated approach adopted by the European teams, with Currie Cup captain James Venter bolstering the stocks.
Bulls VS Dragons
The Bulls will also look to maintain their winning momentum as they hope to bag their third win a row when they meet the Dragons at Loftus Versfeld.
The Welsh side having won only one of their 10 matches in the competition to date, the hosts will be hoping for a full house of points.
The Bulls will certainly enter the match as the favourites given the Dragons’ disappointing form this year, in which they drew one match and suffered two defeats in a row before making the trip to South Africa.
But the visitors will have extra motivation to sway their season as they have yet to register a win in South Africa.