The Sharks take on the Stormers in what promises to be a highly entertaining South African derby in Durban on Saturday.
Both sides head into this match on the back of impressive wins last weekend with the Sharks beating the Sunwolves in Singapore while the Stormers got the better of the Blues in Cape Town.
The two sides are on course to reach the qualifiers with the Stormers sitting pretty at the top of the Africa 1 Conference table while the Sharks are in second spot – behind the Lions – in the Africa 2 Conference standings.
The Sharks have won six of their last nine games against the Stormers, though three of the last five iterations of this fixture have been won by the away team on the day.
The home side are undefeated in their last nine games on home turf – winning eight and drawing one – having conceded an average of just 13 points per game across that period.
The Stormers have won five of their last six South African derbies, though they dropped a five-game winning streak in Round 8 with a 29-16 home loss to the Lions in their last such fixture.
Rookie Sharks wing S’busiso Nkosi, who scored two tries against the Sunwolves, is bracing himself for a thrilling encounter against the men from the Cape who have fine attacking players in their ranks.
“The Stormers have some quality players and they have good counter-attacking abilities,” he said
However, they are not the only ones boasting the players with ability and intent to score tries.
“Quality and counter-attack is something we can also bring to the party, because we also have some very exciting players,” he added.
“This should be a very exciting game.”
After facing New Zealand sides for four successive weeks, Stormers head coach Robbie Fleck expects a tough challenge against the Sharks.
“It is always tough going to Kings Park and we know that we will be seriously tested over there, but our focus is on developing our own game,” he said.
“The team would like to build on our win against the Blues, so our focus this week has been on backing up on that performance.”
The last time the teams met: The Sharks headed to Cape Town and grinded out a hard-fought 18-13 win in Round 3 of last year’s tournament. They sealed their win thanks to a 78th minute try from Joe Pietersen and they were also awarded a penalty try. The Stormers’ only five-pointer was scored by Leolin Zas.
2016: Sharks won 18-13 in Cape Town
2015: Sharks won 34-12 in Durban
2015: Stormers won 29-13 in Cape Town
2014: Sharks won 34-10 in Cape Town
2014: Stormers won 21-19 in Durban
2013: Stormers won 22-15 in Cape Town
2013: Sharks won 12-6 in Durban
2012: Sharks won 26-19 in Cape Town
Sharks: 15 Lwazi Mvovo, 14 Kobus van Wyk, 13 Lukhanyo Am, 12 Johan Deysel, 11 Sbu Nkosi, 10 Garth April, 9 Cobus Reinach, 8 Daniel du Preez, 7 Jean-Luc du Preez, 6 Philip van der Walt (c), 5 Stephan Lewies, 4 Ruan Botha, 3 Coenie Oosthuizen, 2 Chiliboy Ralepelle, 1 Thomas du Toit
Replacements: 16 Franco Marais, 17 Beast Mtawarira, 18 Lourens Adriaanse, 19 Etienne Oosthuizen, 20 Tera Mtembu, 21 Michael Claassens, 22 Benhard Janse van Rensburg, 23 Odwa Ndungane
Stormers: 15 SP Marais, 14 Cheslin Kolbe, 13 EW Viljoen, 12 Damian de Allende, 11 Dillyn Leyds, 10 Kurt Coleman, 9 Jano Vermaak, 8 Nizaam Carr, 7 Siya Kolisi (c), 6 Kobus van Dyk, 5 Pieter-Steph du Toit, 4 Eben Etzebeth, 3 Frans Malherbe, 2 Bongi Mbonambi, 1 Oli Kebble
Replacements: 16 Ramone Samuels, 17 Ali Vermaak, 18 Wilco Louw, 19 Chris van Zyl, 20 Sikhumbuzo Notshe, 21 Dewaldt Duvenage, 22 Juan de Jongh, 23 Seabelo Senatla
Date: Saturday, May 27
Venue: Growthpoint Kings Park
Kick-off: 17:15 local (15:15 GMT)
Referee: Marius ven der Westhuizen
Assistant Referees: AJ Jacobs, Archie Sehlako
TMO: Marius Jonker