The two top teams in the African conferences, the Emirates Lions and DHL Stormers, will battle it out on Saturday night at Emirates Airline Park in Johannesburg in a thrilling finale to a gripping weekend of Vodacom Super Rugby action.
This local derby – the only one of Round 8 – kicks off at 19h15 and is sure to deliver another hard-fought display between the two in-form sides from the north and the south.
A 46-19 win over the Sunwolves last Friday in Cape Town saw the DHL Stormers consolidate their position as the top-ranked team in the local conferences.
The Highveld side in turn, scored a morale-boosting 24-9 victory over the Cell C Sharks in Durban, meaning the Emirates Lions will be full of confidence when they host the Capetonians in Johannesburg.
The Toyota Cheetahs will become the first team to play the Sunwolves twice this season when they face the Japanese outfit on Friday evening at the Toyota Stadium in Bloemfontein. Kick-off is at 19h00.
The Free Staters have struggled to hit form again after scoring their only victory of the season so far over the Sunwolves in the third round.
Toyota Cheetahs coach Franco Smith has made some tweaks in the forwards and the backs in an effort to secure a possible win at home. His side should also be revitalised after their break last weekend and they will be hoping that the rest, plus the home ground advantage, will play in their favour against the visitors from the Far East.
In the first match involving a local side on Saturday, the Cell C Sharks begin their three-match tour of New Zealand with a testing encounter against the Blues at Eden Park in Auckland at 09h35.
The Durban side will be determined to bounce back from their defeat last week, but they will have to do so without the services of in-form Springbok flanker Marcell Coetzee, who suffered a season-ending knee injury last weekend.
At Loftus Versfeld, meanwhile, the Vodacom Bulls will be looking to register their fourth back-to-back victory, and their fifth of the season when they host the Reds at their fortress in Pretoria.
The Reds, however, will be determined to build on their victory against defending champions, the Highlanders, after a series of close encounters in the preceding weeks, and will look challenge the Vodacom Bulls.
But history favours the hosts as they have only lost twice against the Reds at home and that was back in 1999 and 2001 respectively. The match in 1999 was played in Brakpan.
When Dan Kriel replaced his brother Jesse late in last weekend’s match for the Vodacom Bulls, they became the sixth set of twins to play at this level, following in the footsteps of Jean-Luc and Daniel du Preez, Akona and Odwa Ndungane, Sias and Robert Ebersohn, Saia and Anthony Fainga’a and JP and Ruan Smith.
Elsewhere, the Crusaders entertain the Jaguares in Christchurch and the Rebels meet the Hurricanes in Melbourne on Friday. And on Saturday the Waratahs and the Brumbies cross paths in an Australian derby in Sydney. The Southern Kings have a bye this weekend.