The race to the top of the standings and a place in the PRO14 Rainbow Cup final will go down to the wire at the Kings Park Stadium in Durban on Saturday when the revitalised Sharks host the Bulls in what will be a winner take all match.
The Bulls go into the final round of matches on top of the log with 20 points but they are closely followed by the Sharks on 16 points and still have a chance of sneaking to the top of the standings and make it to the final.
The Sharks will have to win with a try-scoring bonus-point while at the same time ensuring that the Bulls return to Pretoria empty-handed if they are to book their place in the final without needing to rely on tie-breakers.
The winner will take on Italian side Benetton Treviso, who will be representing the Northern Hemisphere, in the final at the Stadio di Monigo next weekend.
Sharks vs Bulls
Sharks coach head coach Sean Everitt has brought back heavy hitters in the form of captain Lukhanyo Am , Springbok captain Siya Kolisi, Curwin Bosch and Aphelele Fassi after they missed last weekend’s win over the Lions in Johannesburg.
There is plenty of history between the two sides and while the recent matches have not produced the results that the team wanted, Everitt is of the opinion that they have what it takes to beat the Bulls and qualify for the final.
On the other hand, the Bulls coach Jake White continues to test combinations and positions in his starting line-up with with Ruan Nortje shifting to blindside flank and opening up space for lock Janko Swanepoel to start in the engine room.
Nortje’s move to the side of the scrum is a result of the injury to Elrigh Louw, Springbok loose forward Marcell Coetzee will take over the captaincy form injured Duane Vermeulen while Marco van Staden will cover openside flank.
The rest of the starting line-up remains unchanged but Springbok Nizaam Carr and Junior Springbok Muller Uys have received call ups to take the places of Swanepoel and Van Staden on the bench respectively.
Pick: Sharks Wins at 0.80 at BetXChange
Stormers vs Lions
The other match that was scheduled for the weekend was between the Lions and the Sharks at the Cape Town Stadium but SA Rugby on Friday morning announced that it has been cancelled because of Covid-19 protocols.
In their statement, SA Rugby said the decision was taken as part of prescribed precautions advised by the National Institute for Communicable Diseases (NICD) to limit the risk of further infection in the rugby community.
The decision was triggered on Friday after the receipt of positive results from scheduled testing of the Lions squad. As determined by the competition rules, the Stormers will be awarded four log points because of the cancellation.