Saturday's clash between the Cheetahs and Stormers will be between two teams that have experienced contrasting fortunes recently.
Saturday's clash between the Cheetahs and Stormers will be between two teams that have experienced contrasting fortunes in recent weeks.
The home side are on the verge of setting a new franchise record of five consecutive wins, while the Stormers have won two and lost three of their five matches this year.
But despite those statistics, the men from the Cape will be buoyed by the fact that they have have not lost to the Cheetahs since 2007.
In their nine previous matches, the Stormers were victorious seven times, and the Cheetahs twice, although Naka DrotskÃ©'s men will draw inspiration from last season's performances when both their defeats were by seven points or less 14-16 in Cape Town and 6-13 in Bloemfontein.
Despite his side's fine start to the season, DrotskÃ© is taking nothing for granted and expects a difficult assignment
“The Stormers are always a quality side,” said DrotskÃ©. “It's mainly their defence, which is probably the best in the competition, which makes them very difficult to play against. We'll have to work very hard to get points on the board.
“We're expecting a very tough and physical game. They have a good pack and game breakers at the back. It's always close against them – last year we lost both our matches by seven points or less.
“I realise there will be pressure to perform this week, but we see it as positive pressure. You need to win your home games if you want to make the top six and this is an opportunity for us. The players realise it and know we're going to have to play at 100 percent intensity for 80 minutes on Saturday.”
The Stormers head into this match after suffering a humiliating loss to an under-strength Crusaders team in Cape Town last week.
They kicked off their campaign with back-to-back defeats, to the Bulls and Sharks, before claiming wins against the Chiefs and Brumbies but their revival was halted when they suffered that loss to the Crusaders.
What was revealing during their previous matches, was how they struggled when their forwards failed to dominate at set-piece play.
In their losses to the Bulls and Sharks, they struggled in the scrums, and they came off second-best to Crusaders after losing seven balls on their own throw-in at the line-outs.
Stormers coach Allister Coetzee expects a similar assault from the Cheetahs.
“We've seen how well the Crusaders did their homework and we know that we can expect the same from the Cheetahs,” he said. “This week we'll have to show improvement in all facets of the game if we want to do well against the Cheetahs.
“It's never easy in Bloemfontein and it's going to be a tough South African derby … but we need to focus on our game.”
Prediction: The Cheetahs' are a side on the up while the Stormers that have displayed Jekyll and Hyde tendencies this season. It's a difficult one to call but the Cheetahs will get the win by less than seven points!
Cheetahs: 15 Hennie Daniller, 14 Willie le Roux, 13 Johan Sadie, 12 Robert Ebersohn, 11 Raymond Rhule, 10 Burton Francis, 9 Piet van Zyl,, 8 Phillip van der Walt, 7 Lappies Labuschagne, 6 Heinrich Brussow, 5 Francois Uys, 4 Lood de Jager, 3 Lourens Adriaanse, 2 Adriaan Strauss (c), 1 Trevor Nyakane.
Replacements: 16 Ryno Barnes, 17 Coenie Oosthuisen, 18 Rynhard Landman, 19 Boom Prinsloo, 20 Sarel Pretorius, 21 Francois Brummer, 22 Ryno Benjamin.
Stormers: 15 Jaco Taute, 14 Joe Pietersen, 13 Juan de Jongh, 12 Jean de Villiers (c), 11 Gio Aplon, 10 Elton Jantjies, 9 Nic Groom, 8 Duane Vermeulen, 7 Michael Rhodes, 6 Siya Kolisi, 5 Andries Bekker, 4 De Kock Steenkamp, 3 Frans Malherbe, 2 Deon Fourie, 1 Steven Kitshoff.
Replacements: 16 Martin Bezuidenhout, 17 Pat Cilliers, 18 Gerbrandt Grobler, 19 Nizaam Carr, 20 Louis Schreuder, 21 Gary van Aswegen, 22 Damian de Allende.
Date: Saturday, April 6
Venue: Free State Stadium, Bloemfontein
Kick-off: 17:05 (15:05 GMT)
Referee: Stuart Berry