Bloemfontein - The Free State Cheetahs will be looking to reclaim their spot among the top two teams in the Currie Cup when they face the Golden Lions in Bloemfontein on Friday.
"This game is really important for us," coach Naka Drotské said ahead of the clash.
"This year's competition is a tightly-contested affair, and just one victory can boost a side by three places on the log."
The hosts had a good start to the competition, progressing to second place on the overall points log.
However, they dropped to fourth place - two points behind the Lions - following a mediocre performance against the Blue Bulls in Pretoria at the weekend.
Drotské reiterated that nothing less than a victory would be good enough for the Free State side in front of their home crowd.
"Mentally, we just never pitched against the Blue Bulls," he said.
"We were absent in the first 40 minutes and the guys just didn't look like they wanted to play.
"It looked better in the second half after we talked about it at half-time, but we can ill-afford the same approach against the Lions."
After beating Griquas in Kimberley last weekend, the Lions headed straight for Bloemfontein.
"The Lions have been in our backyard for the whole week," Drotské said.
"That can be a positive or a negative thing from their perspective.
"The fact that they have been gone from home for a while could count in our favour. We hope it does, but we still expect a very tight battle."
Meanwhile, Lions coach Johan Ackermann said his team had focused on their defence, an aspect of their game which has not been up to scratch.
"Obviously we lost a day's preparation because of the short week, so we had to address our attack and defence quite quickly," Ackermann said.
"We've scored many tries so far in the competition, but our defence has leaked some tries.
"Both are aspects that we paid a lot of attention to and hopefully both will look much better than was the case last weekend against Griquas."
The Cheetahs might be on a low after losing to the Blue Bulls, but Ackermann expected a backlash from the hosts.
"It seems we always get teams that have lost their previous games and then they are over-motivated when they run out against us," Ackermann said.
"That will be the same with the Cheetahs. They lost to the Blue Bulls and will be a tough nut to crack."
Free State Cheetahs:
15. Hennie Daniller, 14. Riaan Smit, 13. Johann Sadie, 12. Robert Ebersohn, 11. Raymond Rhule, 10. Elgar Watts, 9. Sarel Pretorius, 8. Boom Prinsloo (captain), 7. Davon Raubenheimer, 6. Lappies Labuschagne, 5. Waltie Vermeulen, 4. Teboho Mohoje, 3. Rossouw de Klerk, 2. Hercu Liebenberg, 1. Trevor Nyakane.
Substitutes: 16. Ethienne Reynecke, 17. Wian du Preez, 18. Freddie Ngoza, 19. Tertius Daniller, 20. Kevin Luiters, 21. Willie du Plessis, 22. Piet Lindeque
15. Marnitz Boshoff, 14. Andries Coetzee, 13. Robert De Bruyn, 12. Dylan Des Fountain, 11. Anthony Volmink, 10. Elton Jantjies, 9. Tian Meyer, 8. Willie Britz, 7. Derek Minnie (captain), 6. Warwick Tecklenberg, 5. Franco van der Merwe, 4. Ruan Venter, 3. Bees Roux, 2. Willie Wepener, 1. CJ van der Linde
Substitutes: 16. Robbie Coetzee, 17. Jacques v Rooyen, 18. Hugo Kloppers, 19. Jaco Kriel, 20. Ross Cronje, 21. Deon Helberg, 22. Ruhan Nel