The Premier Division of the Currie Cup enters the home stretch with six rounds of matches remaining before the play-offs.
The Sharks, who host the highly improved and third-placed Griquas at the Kings Park Stadium in Durban on Saturday, will be going all out for a win that will see them maintain their position at the top of the standings.
Three massive matches are scheduled for this weekend including a North/South derby at Newlands Stadium in Cape Town between Western Province and second-placed Bulls where both teams will be looking for a win to keep their play-offs hopes alive.
In the meantime, SA Rugby has announced that the score for the cancelled match between the Lions and the Cheetahs will be recorded as 0-0 with both teams awarded four log points and that means they are now both on 14 points.
Lions VS Pumas
Lions head coach Ivan van Rooyen has made two changes to his match day 23 for the visit of the Pumas at Ellis Park on Friday afternoon.
Sibusiso Sangweni will get a starting berth after an early injury forced Roelof Smit to leave the field in last week’s match against the Bulls while Morne van den Berg will bring energy from the bench.
The Pumas, who had the best possible starts to the campaign after they smashed the Lions by 39-10 at the Mbombela Stadium in Nelspruit where they bagged five log points and scored five tries, will be looking to complete a double over the team from Johannesburg.
The Lions, who are struggling at the foot of the table with only one win after five matches, have struggled to recover from that defeat and Ivan van Rooyen’s men will be looking to get their campaign back on track.
Pick: Lions Wins by 0.35 at BetXChange
Western Province VS Bulls
Former Springbok centre Juan de Jongh will come full circle when he captains Western Province against the Bulls in their Currie Cup clash at Newlands in Cape Town.
The decorated centre, who won this competition at Newlands in 2014, will once again lead the side following the unavailability of Ernst van Rhyn through injury.
De Jongh will resume his partnership with Dan du Plessis in the midfield, with the only change among the backs from the team that bagged the bonus point victory on Sunday against the Pumas being on the wing where Seabelo Senatla starts in place of Tristan Leyds.
Coach John Dobson welcomes back fit-again Warrick Gelant who has been named among the substitutes.
The absence of regular skipper Van Rhyn means that JD Shickerling will be joined by David Meihuizen in the second row with in-form prop Neethling Fouché the only other change to the pack.
For the visitors, director of rugby Jake White has gone for consistency after making minor changes to the team that emerged victorious against Lions last weekend.
The Bulls will head into the clash in Cape Town on Friday night with a new front row as props Gerhard Steenekamp and Mornay Smith are handed starting berths to replace previous match starters Simphiwe Matanzima and Jacques van Rooyen.
Marcell Coetzee, who was a late omission from the team last week due to illness, makes a return in the No.6 jersey and will retain the captaincy, Springbok loosehead prop Lizo Gqoboka slots back into the match-day 23 as bench cover following his release from the national team camp.
The Bulls have also received a boost in the form of Nizaam Carr, another late casualty last week who was withdrawn on match-day after picking up a niggle ahead of the Jukskei Derby.
Pick: Bulls Wins by 0.35 at BetXChange
Sharks VS Griquas
Sharks head coach Sean Everitt has largely stuck with the same team that performed so well last week against the Cheetahs by naming Lourens Adriaanse at tighthead in place of Khutha Mchunu while Mpilo Gumede comes in for Dylan Richardson at flank.
There are three changes in the backline with Sanele Nohamba replacing Grant Williams, Murray Koster coming in for an injured Marius Louw and Yaw Penxe replacing Marnus Potgieter on the wing.
The Griquas, who are currently sitting on third spot on the table, will have to be at their best against the table-topping Sharks who will be boosted by the comfort of home at Kings Park where they have proved to be difficult to beat at times.
The Durbanites missed out on playing a number of games but showed their class in their last encounter when they beat the Cheetahs in Bloemfontein.
They will be hoping to repeat their 30-16 first-round victory over the men from the Northern Cape when Boeta Chamberlain slotted a drop-goal which turned out to be the only one of the entire first half of the Currie Cup.
Pick: Sharks Wins by 0.14 at BetXChange