The six teams who are still in with a chance of securing a place in the Vodacom Super 14 semi-finals will have to be on top of their game in the last round of league competition.
Four of the six teams bidding for one of three remaining places are involved in action against each other, whilst the other two face opposition who have had poor campaigns but appear capable of ending the season on a high.
Perhaps the most interesting match of the weekend will be the clash between the Blues and the Hurricanes in Auckland on Friday (09h35 SA time). The Hurricanes are currently second and need just a win to confirm their place.
However, defeat against the sixth-placed Blues, who have resurrected their campaign after a mid-season slump, could see them eliminated.
Playing away should not affect the ‘Canes, they have won on their last two visits to Eden Park in 2005 and 2006) and will be looking for a fourth consecutive win over the Blues after winning in Wellington last season.
The Blues, however, hold the edge in terms of all previous Super Rugby matches between them.
The Sharks and the Chiefs, who currently occupy fifth and seventh place respectively on the log, face each other at the Absa Stadium in Durban on Saturday (19h10). The home side bounced back into contention with a win over the Vodacom Cheetahs last week after losing their final three tour matches.
The Chiefs, on the other hand, came unstuck against the Auto & General Lions and will have to get five points and hope for other results to go in their favour.
There has been very little to choose between them over the course of Super Rugby with each having won five of their previous meetings. The Chiefs last win in Durban was in 2004.
With the resurgent Sharks snapping at their heels, the Vodacom Stormers will have to go all out for a bonus point win over the Lions at Ellis Park on Saturday (15h00).
Last week’s draw with the Waratahs puts pressure on the Stormers who are aware that four points could still not be enough for them to qualify. They will also be aware that there is still a chance that they could finish second, if the Hurricanes and Waratahs lose.
The Vodacom Stormers have played well enough in recent weeks to get a win but they will face a Lions team that will have been boosted by its win over the Chiefs and will want to end a dismal season on a high note.
The Stormers have won both previous meetings between them.
Previous Super Rugby results: Stormers vs Lions
Played 2 – Stormers have won 2, Lions 0
2007 Stormers 30 Lions 8 in Cape Town
2006 Lions (Cats) 12 Stormers 23 in Johannesburg
The Waratahs will be in a similar position to the Stormers when they face the Reds in Brisbane on Saturday (11h40). Defeat could see them eliminated if both the Stormers and Sharks win and victory could see them ending up second if the Hurricanes go down.
The Reds have had a frustrating season and despite putting in a good performance in their loss to the Crusaders last week will possibly not have enough to stop the Waratahs. The ‘Tahs have won only one of their five previous matches in Brisbane, in 2006, and will be aiming for a fourth consecutive win over the Reds.