Before the Sharks and Western Province go head-to-head in the domestic showpiece in Durban on Saturday, two other very important games will take place – the final legs of the Currie Cup promotion-relegation series.
While the Leopards have a handy 15-point lead as they head to George to take on the SWD Eagles, it is in the other play-off – the Eastern Province Kings against the Pumas – where the real drama will be.
Deadlocked at 36-all after last week’s first round, the two teams in PE have everything to play for.
We look at this weekend’s matches!
Friday, October 29:
SWD Eagles v Leopards:
(Outeniqua Park, George – Kick-off: 17.00; 15.00 GMT)
The Leopards are favourites to remain in the Currie Cup and only require two log points from their clash against the SWD Eagles at Outeniqua Park on Friday to keep their status as a Premier Division competitor.
The Potchefstroom side secured maximum points from their first promotion/relegation game against their George opponents at Olën Park on Saturday and boast a superior points differential -15.
The result means that the hosts must secure maximum points from their fixture against the Platinum Leopards and deny their opponents any log points when these sides meet on Friday.
The SWD Eagles will fancy their chances of causing an upset over the Potchefstroom side as they have enjoyed a solid home run at Outeniqua Park during the last couple of seasons.
The side, coached by Johan Lerm, have only lost four home games during the last two seasons in George. They secured home victories over the Falcons (57-35), Griffons (42-27), Border Bulldogs (33-12) and the Boland Cavaliers (45-36) this year, but conceded a 19-17 defeat to the EP Kings in week six of the First Division round robin.
The Eagles defeated the Griffons (32-30) in their semifinal clash played at Outeniqua Park but then lost the final of the First Division against the Eastern Province Kings earlier this month by 16-12.
The Leopards on the other hand will have the chance of breaking their duck on the road when they travel to George for their second promotion/relegation game against the Eagles. The visitors did not win one away game this season.
SWD Eagles: 15 Jandré Blom, 14 Bobby Joubert, 13 Sinethemba Zweni, 12 Bevin Fortuin (captain), 11 Joe Breytenbach, 10 Ambrose Barends, 9 Dougie Hellmuth, 8 Jacques Engelbrecht, 7 Shaun Raubenheimer, 6 Lyndon Hartnick, 5 Henry Grimes, 4 Hendrik Eksteen, 3 Wikus Harmse, 2 Johannes Grobler, 1 Jacobus Terblanche.
Replacements: 16 Jandré de Beer, 17 Anton van der Westhuizen, 18 Lubabalo Mtyanda, 19 Danzel Manuel, 20 Eric Zana, 21 Deroy Rhoode, Marchell Potts.
Leopards: 15 Danie Dames, 14 Dumisani Matyeshana, 13 Cornelius Rautenbach, 12 Walter Venter, 11 Colin Lloyd, 10 Clayton Durand, 9 Michael Bondesio, 8 Reginald Kember, 7 Willem Koch (captain), 6 Victor Joubert, 5 Edrich Linde, 4 Christo van Niekerk, 3 Eric Coetzee, 2 Gavin Williamson, 1 Bennie Uys.
Replacements: 16 Stoffel Duvenhage, 17 Divan Kotze, 18 Brad Mockford, 19 Bennie Adams, 20 Theo van Wyk, 21 Joubert Engelbrecht, 22 Sarel Marais.
Referee: Jaco Peyper
Assistant referees: Mlungiseli Mdashe, Phillip Bosch
TMO: Johann Meuwesen
Eastern Province Kings v Pumas
(Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium, Port Elizabeth – Kick-off: 19.10; 17.10 GMT)
In the other promotion/relegation game of the weekend, the Eastern Province Kings will have the chance of advancing to next year’s Premier Division competition if they can topple the Pumas at the Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium on Friday.
Both sides are currently on three log points after they played out an exciting 36-all draw at the Puma Stadium in Witbank last Friday. The Pumas ran in six tries while the Kings scored four five-pointers from that game.
However victory for either side in Port Elizabeth with guarantee themselves a place in next year’s Premier Division while the loser will face a season in the First Division.
The EP Kings have been in superb form at home this season and have only conceded one defeat at the Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium – against the SWD Eagles (25-8).
However, The Pumas have showed they can win away from home – having beaten the Lions (34-27) in Johannesburg and the Leopards (27-26) in Potchefstroom.
Pumas: 15 Carl Bezuidenhout, 14 Vainon Willis, 13 Shaun Venter, 12 Tian Meyer, 11 Allistair Kettledas, 10 Elgar Watts, 9 Hendrik van der Nest, 8 Christo le Roux, 7 Corné Steenkamp, 6 Jaco Bouwer, 5 Marius Coetzer, 4 Luan Velthuizen, 3 Ashley Buys, 2 Hannes Franklin (captain), 1 Ronnie Uys.
Replacements: 16 Hans van Dyk, 17 Dawie Steyn, 18 Dee-Jay Terblanche, 19 Willem Serfontein, 20 Eduan van der Walt, 21 Ricardo Croy, 22 Johan Jackson.
Eastern Province Kings: 15 Anthony Fenner, 14 Paul Perez, 13 Wayne Stevens, 12 De Wet Barry (captain), 11 Norman Nelson, 10 Monty Dumond, 9 Gerrie Odendaal, 8 JJ Gagiano, 7 Devin Oosthuizen, 6 Jacques Potgieter, 5 Willem Stoltz, 4 Rory Duncan, 3 André Schlechter, 2 Jaco Fourie, 1 Pumlani Nodikita.
Replacements: 16 Nio Halangahu, 17 Riaan Vermeulen, 18 Lungelo Payi, 19 Darron Nell, 20 Donald Stevens, 21 Mlindazwe Nqoro, 22 Jaco Bekker.
Referee: Jonathan Kaplan
Assistant referees: Dilbert November, Marc van Zyl
TMO: JC Fortuin
Article courtesy of Rugby 365Tweet