The Bulls have a bye, but for the other four South African teams playing Super Rugby matches this weekend there’s plenty at stake.
And while the Sharks have it all to do in Christchurch against the Crusaders (see back page), it’s time the Cheetahs, Lions and Stormers came to the party.
All three are up against Australian opposition and all are facing teams who are in the running to make the play-offs.
The biggest showdown locally will take place in Bloemfontein when the Cheetahs lock horns with the Brumbies, fresh off their victory against former coach Jake White and his Sharks in Canberra a week ago.
The Brumbies are setting the pace among the Aussie teams, but they face a big two weeks in South Africa as next week they’re up against the Bulls.
The Sharks, among others, will be hoping it’s a two-week trip nightmares are made of, for should the Brumbies return home without a win, the Sharks, and even the Bulls, would be smiling – and with a greater chance of making the play-offs.
But the Cheetahs will have to produce a far better performance than the one dished up a week ago when they came unstuck against the Western Force.
It has been a season to forget for Naka Drotske and his men but they’re the kind of team who can turn it on at any time and there will be hope that it’s tomorrow.
Down in Cape Town the Stormers host the Force and while one would think the home team are favourites, it’s possibly the other way round.
The men from Perth have been the surprise package this season and are in with a real shout of finishing inside the top six; the Stormers have been the big flops and could well suffer another defeat.
Injuries have hit Allister Coetzee’s side hard this year and they’ll need to produce something special to overcome a determined and well-organised Force outfit. Going into the game, the Stormers have won just three times; the Force have bagged seven.
The focus now, for several players, including centre Damian de Allende, will be to stay fit, with an eye on possible Springbok selection.
In Sydney on Sunday, the Lions take on the Waratahs knowing an eighth defeat and wins for the teams below them in the standings will leave them propping up the table after the weekend’s fixtures.
Johan Ackermann’s men, however, will be a confident lot after pushing the Highlanders close a week ago, but then again the Waratahs haven’t had to travel far this week after a demanding tour. Ackermann will name his side today, with JW Jonker set to start in the backs.
In the other games this weekend, the Hurricanes host the Highlanders this morning, while tomorrow the Reds entertain the Rebels. - The Star