The Sharks and Lions are all set to end off their regular seasons with a humdinger in Durban with both teams naming their strongest possible starting XVs, despite having already booked their play-off spots.
With little to play for at this stage, many would have thought Sharks boss Robert du Preez would have saved his best players for the knockout games, while giving the rest of the squad a chance to impress, and maybe get some games under their belts, especially with the Currie Cup starting in just under a month’s time.
Lions coach Johan Ackermann meanwhile, clearly has his heart set on finishing top of the overall standings but will of course need the Hurricanes to do them a favour and beat the Crusaders earlier on Saturday.
Du Preez’s men meanwhile were not at their best against the Bulls two weeks ago, and the former Springbok scrum-half will be looking for a reaction from his charges against a well oiled Lions outfit.
Without the injured Warren Whiteley, Jaco Kriel retains the captaincy, as the Lions, who have already secured the conference title, look to boost their confidence ahead of the play-offs.
They have beaten the Sharks in each of their last four meetings, after winning just twice in 13 meetings prior (D1, L10). However, the Sharks have won their final regular season game in each of their last seven campaigns, winning their last five such fixtures by an average margin of 24 points.
But beating the in-form Lions will be a difficult ask as the Jo’burg side have now won 11 games in a row since a 12-point loss to the Jaguares in Round 3, and have scored 199 points in their last three games combined.
2017: Lions won 34-29 in Johannesburg
2016: Lions won 37-10 in Johannesburg
2016: Lions won 24-9 in Durban
2015: Lions won 23-21 in Johannesburg
2015: Sharks won 29-12 in Durban
2014: Sharks won 25-12 in Johannesburg
2014: Sharks won 37-23 in Durban
2012: Lions won 38-28 in Johannesburg
Sharks: 15 Lwazi Mvovo, 14 Kobus van Wyk, 13 Lukhanyo Am, 12 Andre Esterhuizen, 11 S’busiso 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 Etienne Oosthuizen, 3 Coenie Oosthuizen, 2 Chiliboy Ralepelle, 1 Thomas du Toit
Replacements: 16 Stephan Coetzee, 17 Juan Schoeman, 18 Lourens Adriaanse, 19 Jean Droste, 20 Tera Mtembu, 21 Michael Claassens, 22 Curwin Bosch, 23 Jeremy Ward
Lions: 15 Andries Coetzee, 14 Ruan Combrinck, 13 Lionel Mapoe, 12 Harold Vorster, 11 Courtnall Skosan, 10 Elton Jantjies, 9 Ross Cronje, 8 Ruan Ackermann, 7 Kwagga Smith, 6 Jaco Kriel (c), 5 Franco Mostert, 4 Andries Ferreira, 3 Ruan Dreyer, 2 Malcolm Marx, 1 Jacques van Rooyen
Replacements: 16 Akker vd Merwe, 17 Corne Fourie, 18 Johannes Jonker, 19 Lourens Erasmus, 20 Cyle Brink, 21 Faf de Klerk, 22 Rohan Janse van Rensburg, 23 Sylvian Mahuza
Date: Saturday, July 15
Venue: Growthpoint Kings Park, Durban
Kick-off: 17:15 local (15:15 GMT)
Referee: Marius van der Westhuizen
Assistant Referees: AJ Jacobs, Cwengile Jadezweni
TMO: Johan Greeff