The Vodacom Blue Bulls and defending champions, the Cell C Sharks, will enter their match knowing exactly what they have to do to advance to the semi-final – a luxury of playing the last match on Saturday. But this will not influence their mindset as they will both target a victory at all costs.
A win for the Cell C Sharks should be enough to see them through to the top four, while a bonus-point win for the Vodacom Blue Bulls could still leave them short depending on the other results. The Blue Bulls must hope Western Province lose against Free State Cheetahs without earning any points and they must beat the Sharks and keep the Sharks earning any bonus points while they need to get earn the maximum points on offer.
Given how closely matched the teams have been on attack and defence – with both teams having scored 14 tries this season and the KwaZulu-Natalians having conceded only four points less – it could prove to be an epic clash.
The Cell C Sharks have won the last five matches between the sides, but this will mean nothing to the Vodacom Blue Bulls whose only focus will be to finish the season on a high note.
As expected, the Vodacom Blue Bulls beefed up their team with Springboks Lizo Gqoboka (prop) and Marco van Staden (flanker) in what marked the only two changes to the run-on side, with the Cell C Sharks opting to do the same with their returning Springboks, Thomas du Toit (prop) and André Esterhuizen (centre), while another Springbok Coenie Oosthuizen is also back in the front row.
Venue: Loftus Versfeld, Pretoria. Kick-off: 19h30
Vodacom Blue Bulls – 15 Divan Rossouw, 14 Cornal Hendricks, 13 Johnny Kotze, 12 Dylan Sage, 11 Rosko Specman, 10 Manie Libbok, 9 Ivan van Zyl (capt), 8 Tim Agaba, 7 Wian Vosloo, 6 Marco van Staden, 5 Ruan Nortje, 4 Andries Ferreira, 3 Wiehahn Herbst, 2 Johan Grobbelaar, 1 Lizo Gqoboka. Replacements: 16 Corne Els, 17 Dayan van der Westhuizen, 18 Conraad van Vuuren, 19 Jean Droste, 20 Ruan Steenkamp, 21 Embrose Papier, 22 Vaughen Isaacs, 23 Stedman Gans.
Cell C Sharks – 15 Aphelele Fassi, 14 Kobus van Wyk, 13 Jeremy Ward (co-capt), 12 André Esterhuizen, 11 Lwazi Mvovo, 10 Boeta Chamberlain, 9 Sanele Nohamba, 8 Tera Mtembu (co-capt), 7 Jacques Vermeulen, 6 Phepsi Buthelezi, 5 Hyron Andrews, 4 Ruben van Heerden, 3 Coenie Oosthuizen, 2 Kerron van Vuuren, 1 Thomas du Toit. Replacements: 16 Dylan Richardson, 17 Mzamo Majola, 18 John-Hubert Meyer, 19 Gideon Koegelenberg, 20 Andisa Ntsila, 21 Cameron Wright, 22 Rhyno Smith, 23 JP Pietersen.