The big clash of the weekend takes place in Johannesburg where the high-riding Golden Lions take on a rejuventated Blue Bulls side.
Both teams are on a high after last week's matches. The Bulls caused an upset when they beat Western Province 28-20 in Pretoria and the Lions widened the gap in the standings after their 43-23 home win over the Leopards.
The home side's recent run of good form and the defeats suffered by their closest rivals, WP and the Sharks, mean that they have opened a 10 point gap on the two coastal sides who are both on 32 points.
Despite beating the Lions at home and away last year, the Bulls suffered a 36-27 defeat when these teams met on 6 August at Loftus Versfeld in Pretoria.
Another important match takes place in Cape Town, where Western Province host the Free State Cheetahs. Both sides have thrilled crowds with running rugby throughout the season, so expect plenty of end-to-end action in this encounter.
The weekend's two other fixtures take place on Friday, with strugglers the Pumas and the Leopards doing battle in Nelspruit, while defending champions the Sharks host Griquas in Durban.
Friday, 23 September
Pumas v Leopards, Sharks v Griquas
Saturday, 24 September
Lions v Blue Bulls, Western Province v Free State Cheetahs
1. Golden Lions 42
2. Western Province 32
3. Sharks 32
4. Cheetahs 30
5. Griquas 25
6. Blue Bulls 24
7. Pumas 10
8. Leopards 5
Pumas v Leopards
Mbombela Stadium, Nelspruit
The weekend's action gets underway with a clash between the competition's two bottom-placed teams.
The Pumas finally registered their first win of their campaign when they beat Griquas 34-31 in Kimberley last week.
Although that win will give them confidence ahead of their encounter with the Leopards, they should not underestimate their opponents who beat them 27-15 in Potchefstroom in the corresponding fixture on 5 August.
Leopards coach Leon Boshoff has been struggling with injuries but he believes his charges can beat the Pumas again.
"With all our injuries, this game against the Pumas will be a very big test of character, but we've shown a lot of character so far this season and I'm confident the guys can do it again," said Boshoff.
Pumas coach Jimmy Stonehouse reckons his side have the ability to beat the Leopards but warned against complacency.
"We can't afford to underestimate them [the Leopards] again, like we did last time," Stonehouse said.
"It will be easier on our home field, but it is important that we keep the momentum from last week's win," he added.
Prediction: After their momentous win against Griquas, the Pumas will be high on confidence for this clash and should pull of their second successive victory. The Leopards will not make things easy for them though, so expect a close, hard fought-battle. Pumas by five!
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 Cornť Steenkamp (c), 5 Marius Coetzer, 4 Willem Serfontein, 3 Brett Nel, 2 Torsten van Jaarsveld, 1 Dawie Steyn.
Replacements: 16 Marthinus van der Westhuizen, 17 Michael de Nieully Rice, 18 Eduan van der Walt, 19 JP Mostert, 20 Hendrik van der Nest, 21 Dewald Pretorius, 22 Carl Bezuidenhout.
Leopards: 15 George Tossel, 14 Hoffmann Maritz, 13 Charl Weideman, 12 Joubert Engelbrecht (c), 11 Jovan Bowles, 10 Wesley Dunlop, 9 Johann Laker, 8 Robert Kruger, 7 Luvuyiso Lusaseni, 6 Philip de Wet, 5 Bradley Mockford, 4 Brendon Snyman, 3 BÍrend Botha, 2 Gavin Williamson, 1 Jean Rossouw.
Replacements: 16 Stoffel Duvenhage, 17 Dewald Coetzee, 18 BÍrend Botha, 19 Philip de Wet, 20 Johann Laker, 21 Clayton Durand, 22 George Tossel.
Kick-off:19:00 (17:00 GMT)
Referee: Pro Legoete
Sharks v Griquas
Kings Park Stadium, Durban
Expect a big backlash from the Sharks after their 53-32 defeat to the Free State Cheetahs in Bloemfontein last week.
With WP facing a tricky hurdle against the Cheetahs in Cape Town a day later, the Sharks will go all out to beat Griquas convincingly to put extra pressure on their closest rivals on the table.
Sharks assistant coach Hugh Reece-Edwards knows how important it is for his team to clinch a big win in their quest for a home semi-final.
"We can't go into the play-offs performing poorly. We are still in the top three and that's after playing both good and bad rugby. That shows that we have something, but we've also let ourselves down at times, and now we just need to get that belief back," he said.
"We haven't been looking at the opposition and what they're doing on the log, we need to find our own way and if we want to win this competition, we need to do better.
"I think Griquas will come down here desperate for the win that would keep them in line to secure a top four spot and they will come with the added confidence brought about by the fact that they beat us in the first round and quite convincingly. Making the semi-finals would be a huge thing for them," added Reece-Edwards.
Prediction:The Sharks have a point to prove and will be keen to make amends for their poor performance against the Cheetahs. They should win this clash by the biggest winning margin of the weekend Sharks by 18!
Sharks: 15 Stefan Terblanche, 14 Sibusiso Sithole, 13 Marius Joubert, 12 Meyer Bosman, 11 Lwazi Mvovo, 10 Frederic Michalak, 9 Ross Cronje, 8 Keegan Daniel (c), 7 Jean Deysel, 6 Jacques Botes, 5 Alistair Hargreaves, 4 Anton Bresler, 3 Eugene van Staden, 2 Kyle Cooper, 1 Dale Chadwick.
Replacements: 16 Monde Hadebe, 17 Wiehahn Herbst, 18 Ross Skeate, 19 Marcell Coetzee, 20 Charl McLeod, 21 Adrian Jacobs, 22 Louis Ludik.
Griquas: 15 Riaan Viljoen, 14 Dusty Noble, 13 Wilmaure Louw, 12 Matthew Rosslee, 11 Rocco Jansen, 10 Earl Rose, 9 Marnus Hugo, 8 Jonathan Mokuena (c), 7 Davon Raubenheimer, 6 Justin Downey, 5 Frikkie Spies, 4 Hendrik Roodt, 3 Lourens Adriaanse, 2 Ryno Barnes, 1 Ivann Espag.
Replacements: 16 Simon Westraadt, 17 Steph Roberts, 18 Leon Karemaker, 19 Marnus Schoeman, 20 Hanno Coetzee, 21 Monty Dumond, 22 Rudi Vogt.
Kick-off:19:10 (17:10 GMT)
Referee: Jason Jaftha
Golden Lions v Blue Bulls
Coca-Cola Park Stadium, Johannesburg
The Blue Bulls will have their tails up after their impressive win over second-placed WP and must fancy their chances against their neighbours, the Lions.
This clash is an important one for both teams as the Lions are keen to consolidate their position at the top of the standings while the Bulls are still in the hunt for a place in the semi-finals.
Lions captain Josh Strauss expects a gruelling battle against their neighbours but reckons his side will be up to the challenge.
"I think the game will be special, obviously because it's our big derby game. It is a big challenge for us and something the guys look forward to," said Strauss.
"We have had a good week, but we always know, it doesn't matter what the log looks like, the Blue Bulls will come for us. It is a massive game and we have to man up and pitch on the day."
Bulls coach Pine Pienaar knows what his teams has to do in their quest for a play-off spot and said his team are highly motivated to beat the Lions.
"We cannot look at other teams and hope for them to do us any favours. We need to knuckle down and beat the Lions, because only then we will remain in control of our destiny," said Pienaar.
Prediction: Despite their fine recent form, the Bulls will find the going tough against the Lions who have been almost invincible at their home ground this season. Lions by seven!
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 Rudy Paige, 21 Burton Francis, 22 James Kamana.
Blue Bulls: 15 Zane Kirchner, 14 Bjorn Basson, 13 Wynand Olivier, 12 Francois Venter, 11 Gerhard van den Heever, 10 Louis Fouche/Francois Brummer, 9 Jano Vermaak, 8 CJ Stander, 7 Jacques Potgieter, 6 Dewald Potgieter, 5 Juandre 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/Marnitz Boshoff, 22 Jurgen Visser.
Kick-off:15:00 (13:00 GMT)
Referee: Lourens van der Merwe
Western Province v Free State Cheetahs
Newlands Stadium, Cape Town
Both sides are exponents of the running game, so expect an entertaining clash played at a frenetic pace. WP will look to bounce back after their recent defeat to the Blue Bulls while the Cheetahs are keen to build on their fine win over the Sharks.
Cheetahs coach Naka Drotske has kept faith in his inexperienced half-back pairing of Johan Goosen (fly-half) and Piet van Zyl (scrum-half), who played so well in that win over the defending champions last week.
WP assistant coach Matthew Proudfoot knows it's going to be a tough outing but he knows what to expect from the Bloemfontein-based side.
"The Cheetahs will play how they have all season - they are looking to score tries and to play a running game," said Proudfoot.
They play a very high impact game as well and then unleash the backs out wide. It is what they do well and it will be a huge challenge."
WP have been struggling with injuries to key players throughout the season but Proudfoot reckons there has been a positive spin-off from it.
"From the team perspective we need to look at the positives and see that it is an opportunity for another guy to put his hand up and take his chance in the side," he said.
"In that sense Allister (Coetzee, WP head coach) has handled the situation really well and credit goes to him. If we had a different approach we may not have handled the situation so that is definitely a positive."
Prediction: This is going to be bruising encounter as both teams have plenty to play for. However, WP have been more consistent this season and should win this one. WP by five!
Western Province: 15 Conrad Jantjes, 14 Danie Poolman, 13 Johann Sadie, 12 Marcel Brachť, 11 JJ Engelbrecht, 10 Lionel Cronje, 9 Dewaldt Duvenage, 8 Nick Koster, 7 Tertius Daniller, 6 Nick Fenton-Wells, 5 De Kock Steenkamp, 4 Hilton Lobberts, 3 Brok Harris, 2 Tiaan Liebenberg (c), 1 JD Moller.
Replacements: 16 Deon Fourie, 17 Frans Malherbe, 18 Nizaam Carr, 19 Siya Kolisi, 20 Louis Schreuder, 21 Berton Klaasen, 22 Heinrich Steyl.
Free State Cheetahs: 15 Hennie Daniller, 14 Rayno Benjamin, 13 Robert Ebersohn, 12 Philip Snyman, 11 Cameron Jacobs, 10 Johan Goosen, 9 Piet van Zyl, 8 Ashley Johnson, 7 Boom Prinsloo, 6 Pieter Labuschagne, 5 Izak van der Westhuizen, 4 Wilhelm Steenkamp, 3 Coenie Oosthuizen, 2 Adriaan Strauss (c), 1 Marcel van der Merwe.
Replacements: 16 Hercu Liebenberg, 17 Trevor Nyakane, 18 Francois Uys, 19 Johan Wessels, 20 Tewis de Bruyn, 21 Sias Ebersohn, 22 Andries Strauss.
Kick-off:17:05 (15:05 GMT)
Referee: Stuart Berry