This weekend's action could play a defining role in the race for the play-offs as there are several interesting battles taking place.
This weekend's action could play a defining role in the race for the play-off positions as there are several interesting battles taking place.
On Saturday, the table-topping Golden Lions face the Free State Cheetahs, who are on a high after beating Western Province 34-20 in Cape Town last week.
The Cheetahs have home ground advantage making this a tricky assignment for the Lions who suffered only their second defeat of the campaign to the Blue Bulls in Johannesburg last weekend.
Back in August, Elton Jantjies was the Lions' hero when he contributed 12 points via four penalties in their 17-10 win over the Cheetahs.
In another big clash, defending champions the Sharks host last year's runners-up Western Province in Durban.
The Sharks are trying to haul in the Lions while WP must win this encounter if they want to stay in contention for a home semi-final.
They lost their place amongst the frontrunners after their humiliating defeat to the Cheetahs.
Sharks and WP matches are usually close affairs and earlier in the season the Sharks triumphed 21-19 in wet conditions in Cape Town.
The Blue Bulls are making a late surge up the table and get the weekend's proceedings underway when they host the Pumas in Pretoria on Friday.
The only other match of the weekend takes place in Potchefstroom on Saturday when the Leopards face Griquas.
Friday, 30 September
Blue Bulls v Pumas
Saturday, 1 October
Free State Cheetahs v Golden Lions, Leopards v Griquas, Sharks v Western Province
1. Golden Lions 43
2. Sharks 37
3. Cheetahs 35
4. Western Province 32
5. Blue Bulls 28
6. Griquas 25
7. Pumas 14
8. Leopards 5
Blue Bulls v Pumas
Loftus Versfeld Stadium, Pretoria
The Blue Bulls are on a high after their 21-18 win over the table-topping Lions last week and will be keen to continue where they left off against the Pumas.
Earlier this season the Bulls struggled to assert themselves when they faced the Pumas in Nelspruit and they were lucky to win 16-12 as the Pumas dominated large periods of that match.
After a slow start, which saw them losing their first nine matches, the Pumas have come alive in recent weeks and are brimming with confidence after beating Griquas and the Leopards in successive weeks.
However, the Bulls have slowly but surely worked their way up the table thanks to some good form of their own in recent weeks.
Apart from that win over the Lions, they also beat WP and drew with the Cheetahs.
Blue Bulls coach Pine Pienaar has retained the same starting XV but expects another tough battle against the Pumas.
“We had a huge fright against them in Nelspruit earlier in the season and only won 16-12. They are a tough nut to crack as they have showed by beating Griquas in Kimberley,” said Pienaar.
“We cannot look past this match. We need to run our own race and play our own game if we want to get there and we know there is no such thing as an easy Absa Currie Cup game this season,” he added.
Prediction:The Blue Bulls seem to be striking form at just the right time and should prove too strong for their visitors. Bulls by 10.
Blue Bulls: 15 Zane Kirchner, 14 Bjorn Basson, 13 Wynand Olivier, 12 Francois Venter, 11 Gerhard van den Heever, 10 Louis FouchÃ©, 9 Jano Vermaak, 8 CJ Stander, 7 Jacques Potgieter, 6 Warwick Tecklenburg, 5 JuandrÃ© Kruger, 4 Flip van der Merwe, 3 Werner Kruger, 2 Gary Botha (c), 1 Dean Greyling.
Replacements: 16 Willie Wepener, 17 Rossouw de Klerk, 18 Gerrit-Jan van Velze, 19 Arno Botha, 20 Dustin Jinka, 21 Francois Brummer, 22 Jurgen Visser.
Pumas: 15 MJ Mentz, 14 Wilhelm Loock, 13 JW Jonker, 12 Siviwe Magaba, 11 Johan Jackson, 10 Coenie van Wyk, 9 Shaun Venter, 8 Christo le Roux, 7 Jaco Bouwer, 6 CornÃ© Steenkamp (c), 5 Marius Coetzer, 4 Willem Serfontein, 3 Ashley Buys, 2 Marthinus van der Westhuizen, 1 Dawie Steyn.
Replacements: 16 Torsten van Jaarsveld, 17 Brett Nel, 18 Eduan van der Walt, 19 JP Mostert, 20 Hendrik van der Nest, 21 Dewald Pretorius, 22 Carl Bezuidenhout.
Kick-off:19:10 (17:10 GMT)
Referee: Sindile Mayende
Free State Cheetahs v Golden Lions
Free State Stadium, Bloemfontein
The Lions will have to be at their best if they want to beat the Cheetahs, who have beaten WP and the Sharks in their two previous encounters.
The Johannesburg-based team have struggled to beat the Cheetahs in their backyard and their last win in Bloemfontein came in 2005, when they beat the eventual champions 31-20.
Lions coach John Mitchell expects a tough assignment but said his side will stick to what has worked for them this season.
“Nothing really changes as we always work hard on our defence. We work a lot on organisation and look at trends of the opposition, but you also have to allow for the element of surprise,” said Mitchell.
“Having said that, the Cheetahs are pretty predictable and we know what to expect. We are just going to have to lift our intensity and we have to become more accurate. I'd like to think that we got a good education from the defeat to the Blue Bulls (last weekend) and that we've learnt from that.”
The Cheetahs showed in their triumphs over the Sharks and WP that they are a well balanced outfit who have the ability to strike from anywhere on the park.
Prediction:This match is a potential banana skin for the Lions who were shaky against the Bulls last week. The Cheetahs are the form team in the competition and should win a close battle. Cheetahs by five!
Free State Cheetahs: 15 Hennie Daniller, 14 Ryno Benjamin, 13 Robert Ebersohn, 12 Philip Snyman, 11 Cameron Jacobs, 10 Johan Goosen, 9 Piet van Zyl, 8 Ashley Johnson, 7 Philip van der Walt, 6 Pieter Labuschagne, 5 Izak van der Westhuizen, 4 Francois Uys, 3 Coenie Oosthuizen, 2 Adriaan Strauss (c), 1 Marcel van der Merwe.
Replacements: 16 Hercu Liebenberg, 17 Trevor Nyakane, 18 Wilhelm Steenkamp, 19 Boom Prinsloo, 20 Tewis de Bruyn, 21 Sias Ebersohn, 22 Andries Strauss.
Golden Lions: 15 Jaco Taute, 14 Deon van Rensburg, 13 Doppies la Grange, 12 Alwyn Hollenbach, 11 Michael Killian, 10 Elton Jantjies, 9 Michael Bondesio, 8 Joshua Strauss (c), 7 Derick Minnie, 6 Cobus Grobbelaar, 5 Franco van der Merwe, 4 Michael Rhodes, 3 Patric Cilliers, 2 Bandise Maku, 1 JC Janse van Rensburg.
Replacements: 16 Martin Bezuidenhout, 17 Jacobie Adriaanse, 18 David Bulbring, 19 Warren Whiteley, 20 Burton Francis, 21 James Kamana, 22 Dylan des Fountain.
Kick-off:15:00 (13:00 GMT)
Referee: Marius Jonker