Cape Town - While Western Province have already secured a top-of-the-log finish to the regular Currie Cup season, the outcome of the other games will have an influence on their opponents, the Sharks, at Newlands on Saturday (17:05 kick-off).
The Sharks, currently in third place with 29 points, have set their sights on a second-place finish. However, should the Lions, on 31 points, win their earlier fixture in Johannesburg they would remain in second place.
If the Lions were to lose, the Sharks would be fired up at the prospect of a home semi-final. In that case, they need a win, with or without a bonus point, to dislodge the Lions.
The Sharks cannot be overtaken by any of the teams below them on the log as the nearest team is the Bulls on 23 points.
The Sharks may decide to rethink their match-day selection with the view of protecting key players for the semi-final a week later. The result in the Lions game may see a weakened Sharks side running out against the hosts who will be fielding a decidedly weaker team.
"We will be looking at the Cheetahs-Lions game and if the result does go our way, we may need to tweak a few things but we will talk about that as it happens," said Sharks coach Brad MacLeod-Henderson.
"In our minds we know we have to go to Cape Town and perform well to get a result. We would like to have a home semi-final because then we will not be required to travel."
From a spectator's point of view, it would be far more pleasing watching a match in which there was something at stake rather than a contest akin to a dead rubber.
"If you ask the Sharks fans down in Cape Town, they will tell you that there is no such thing as a dead rubber between Western Province and the Sharks," said MacLeod-Henderson.
"We are going down there to give a good account of ourselves and to make sure that we put up a good performance."
The WP camp would be hoping their second-stringers can produce individual performances which would make them serious contenders for semi-final selection, although there would not be many slots up for grabs. On current form, it was likely only four players in Saturday's run-on side would make the semi-final starting team.
"I want the new players to give me a selection headache for the semi-finals," said WP coach Allister Coetzee.
"It is not as if this team completely lacks experience. We have new players, but we also have plenty of guys who have done it for us before.
"There has been a lot of energy and intensity this week and the guys will be going all out to win on Saturday. There is no question of us not wanting to win."
While the Sharks had a specific interest in the result of the Lions-Cheetahs game, WP would have an eye on all the other weekend matches which would determine their semi-final opponents. If the form book prevailed, it should be the Blue Bulls heading down to Newlands next week.
15. Dillyn Leyds, 14. EW Viljoen, 13. Pat Howard, 12. Michael van der Spuy, 11. Devon Williams, 10. Kurt Coleman, 9. Louis Schreuder, 8. Sikhumbuzo Notshe, 7. Rynhardt Elstadt, 6. Rohan Kitshoff, 5. Gerbrandt Grobler, 4. Jurie van Vuuren, 3. Brok Harris (captain), 2. Tiaan Liebenberg, 1. Oli Kebble
Substitutes: 16. Neil Rautenbach, 17. Justin Ackerman, 18. Gavin Annandale, 19. Anton van Zyl, 20. Patrick O’Brien, 21. Godlen Masimla, 22. Chevandre van Schoor
15. SP Marais, 14. Tonderai Chavhanga, 13. S’bura Sithole, 12. Andre Esterhuizen, 11. Lwazi Mvovo, 10. Lionel Cronje, 9. Cobus Reinach, 8. Tera Mtembu (captain), 7. Etienne Oosthuizen, 6. Jacques Botes, 5. Marco Wentzel, 4. Stephan Lewies, 3. Matt Stevens, 2. Monde Hadebe, 1. Thomas du Toit
Substitutes: 16. Franco Marais, 17. Dale Chadwick, 18. Lourens Adriaanse, 19. JC Astle, 20. Khaya Majola, 21. Conrad Hoffmann, 22. Fred Zeilinga