Vodacom Super Rugby
Bulls, Sharks in playoff scrap
Zane Kirchner (Gallo Images)
Johannesburg - The Sharks and the Bulls have everything to play for in Saturday's Super Rugby clash in Durban, with playoff aspirations for both teams on the line.
Bulls skipper Victor Matfield said this week his side's full focus was on their immediate task, but they were well aware of the long road that lay ahead.
"There are all kind of possibilities and a team that doesn't win could be in trouble, but for us we can't look beyond this weekend," said Matfield.
"It is nice to have two [successive] wins as it gives us confidence and belief in what we are doing, but there is still a lot of hard work that lies ahead."
The Sharks are in fifth place on the log with 43 points while the Bulls are eighth with 36 points.
The Bulls are fresh off a convincing 47-10 victory over the Rebels last week while the Sharks enjoyed a bye.
Less than a month ago critics believed the title holders' chances of defending their title had all but vanished.
The Bulls, however, dusted themselves off and are picking up steam as the competition nears the business end.
The Sharks, on the other hand, have been blowing hot and cold in recent weeks and will look to find some consistency.
Meanwhile, the other Super Rugby match on South African soil will see a resurgent Cheetahs outfit take on the Melbourne Rebels in Bloemfontein on Saturday.
The hosts are five tries away from becoming the most prolific try scoring Cheetahs team in Super Rugby history.
They have scored 30 tries in this year's competition and are the joint-leading try-scoring team, along with the Sharks, in the South African conference.
The Rebels, on the other hand, have the leakiest defence in the competition, having conceded 57 tries and 430 points before the weekend.
Cheetahs assistant coach Hawies Fourie, however, said his side needed to improve on attack if they were to claim their fourth consecutive victory.
"We will have to be better on attack. We did not do at the breakdowns against the Crusaders [last week]," Fourie said on Friday.
"The team did well on defence which is an area we would like to build on."
The Lions will be the first South African team in action on Saturday when they take on the Waratahs in the second match of their Australasian tour.
Last week everything clicked for the Lions when they beat the Brumbies for only their second Super Rugby victory of the season.
They will be bolstered by Butch James who is set to receive his first run-on start since he joined the squad in Australia.