Cape Town - The Sharks will hunt their seventh successive Currie Cup victory – a feat they last achieved in 2010 – when they travel to Nelspruit to take on the Pumas on Friday evening as the competition enters the ninth round.
The KwaZulu-Natalians, who leaped to the top of the table last weekend, have been in fine form this season, with their only defeat so far in the opening round of the competition against the Free State Cheetahs.
They will, however, face a determined Pumas outfit looking to return to winning ways after being pipped by one point last week. The Sharks won the last three matches between the sides, which included a 29-0 victory in the second round.
But the Pumas emerged victorious in Nelspruit in 2014 and 2015, which will boost their confidence.
The Lowvelders have made five changes to their team for this match, which includes the return of fullback Justin van Staden to the starting XV, while prop De-Jay Terblanche will achieve a special milestone as he plays his 170th match for the union.
The Sharks welcome back Springbok flyhalf Curwin Bosch in one of four changes to the starting team, with the others being the inclusion of props Thomas du Toit and Ross Geldenhuys in the front row and Garth April at fullback.
Griquas, meanwhile, will look to bounce back from a disappointing result last week when they host the Golden Lions, who are fresh off their first win in five outings, in Kimberley on Saturday. The hosts have won only one of their last six matches against the Johannesburg side dating back to 2013, but they will take comfort from the fact that they went down against the Golden Lions by only five points earlier in the season.
Golden Lions coach Swys de Bruin’s side shows five personnel changes, with prop Jacobie Adriaanse and Kwagga Smith starting, while Griquas made four changes up-front which sees hooker AJ le Roux and former Junior Springbok prop Nicolaas Oosthuizen feature in a new-look front row.
In Cape Town, Western Province and the Free State Cheetahs will look to get their campaigns back on track after defeats last week, while the hosts will have the added incentive of earning their first win in four matches against the Bloemfontein side. The Capetonians, however, won three of their last four matches at Newlands prior to their home defeat last season, which will inspire them.
Province prop Alistair Vermaak will earn his 50th cap as he returns to the starting line-up in one of five changes, which also sees Jano Vermaak back from Springbok duty and Blitzbok star Werner Kok included in the starting team. The Cheetahs, in turn, made only two changes to their starting XV with Ernst Stapelberg named at flyhalf and Marco Mason at fullback.