Pretoria - Bulls captain Pierre Spies said on Tuesday it was important for his side to clinch an away victory over the Sharks on Friday if they wanted to keep their hopes of securing a home playoff match alive.
"Every season is different, last year we were in a situation where we had to win every game to make the playoffs," said Spies at the team announcement in Pretoria.
"Our motivation to win is still the same and we would like to get a home quarter or semi, we want to get the best result we can."
While the Bulls are in a stronger position than at the same stage in last year's competition, they did not want to fall into the same trap against the Sharks.
Last year the Sharks ended the Bulls' playoff ambitions by ousting the defending champions on their home ground with a narrow 26-23 victory.
"In the end you want to win your games and if you look at last year it was so close and yet so far losing that last game against the Sharks," Spies said.
"It is almost similar as there is a lot at stake this weekend with both teams gunning for that second place."
The weekend's results in the matches between the Cheetahs and the Stormers and the Sharks and Bulls could see the top position in the South African conference change.
The Cheetahs could do the Bulls a favour if they beat the Stormers on Saturday, provided the Pretoria-based side win their match.
The Sharks, who are in eighth place on the overall log, will be desperate to move back into the top six in the penultimate week of the Super Rugby knockout phase.
“We had a good roll against the Cheetahs last week and now it is another tough task waiting for us in Durban," said Spies.
Bulls coach Frans Ludeke said the side kept a keen eye on the permutations and they would – like their opponents – be hell bent on winning their final matches of the series.
"It is a must win situation but our focus is on our plan and executing for 80 minutes and what will be required this Friday night," said Ludeke.
"I think we are also desperate. Everybody needs to win and that is what makes this contest such a special event on Friday.
"Both teams need to be successful and it is going to be a huge clash." Ludeke has kept the Bulls side unchanged for Friday's crunch clash.
Ludeke said team selection was straightforward this week as they showed against the Cheetahs that they were up to the task and were in form.
"Momentum is a very important factor at this stage of the competition and it is something we have now," said Ludeke.
Hooker Chiliboy Rallepele will run out in his 50th Super Rugby match for the Bulls, while Willhelm Steenkamp could also play in his 50th Super game.
Bulls team: Zane Kirchner, Akona Ndungane, JJ Engelbrecht, Wynand Olivier, Bjorn Basson, Morne Steyn, Francois Hougaard, Pierre Spies (captain), Jacques Potgieter, Dewald Potgieter, Juandre Kruger, Flip van der Merwe, Werner Kruger, Chiliboy Ralepelle, Dean Greyling.
Replacements: Willie Wepener, Frik Kirsten, Wilhelm Steenkamp, CJ Stander, Jano Vermaak, Louis Fouche, Francois Venter.