The Cheetahs and Kings will find themselves in must-win situations when they host the Cardiff Blues and Scarlets respectively.
KINGS vs SCARLETS, Friday 7pm
Since showing a few flashes of brilliance at the start of the season, things have gone horribly awry for the Kings, who are now bottom of the Conference B table.
With his squad ravaged by injuries, coach Deon Davids has had to field different combinations every week and that inconsistency in selection is reflected in their results.
And things are about to get messier when they take on the Scarlets at Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium.
The Scarlets have named their B-team for this game, with fullback Clayton Blommetjies, No 8 Uzair Cassiem, lock David Bulbring and tighthead prop Werner Kruger all starting. Unfortunately for the Kings, though, the Scarlets are still likely to come away with a commanding win and five log points to go with it.
The noteworthy selections in the Kings team for this clash include the return of veteran loosehead prop Schalk Ferreira and the inclusion of Tertius Kruger and Fijian Meli Rokoua, who will make their debuts if they come on to the field.
Kings – 15 Masixole Banda, 14 Penxe Yaw, 13 Harlon Klaasen, 12 Berton Klaasen, 11 Bjorn Basson, 10 Martin du Toit, 9 Godlen Masimla, 8 Andisa Ntsila, 7 Ruaan Lerm, 6 Stephan de Wit, 5 JC Astle (c), 4 Schalk Oelofse, 3 Luvuyo Pupuma, 2 Alandré van Rooyen, 1 Schalk Ferreira.
Subs: 16 Tango Balekile, 17 Justin Forwood, 18 Luphumlo Mguca, 19 Stephan Greeff, 20 Martinus Burger, 21 Rudi van Rooyen, 22 Tertius Kruger, 23 Meli Rokoua.
Scarlets – 15 Clayton Blommetjies, 14 Johnny McNicholl, 13 Paul Asquith, 12 Steff Hughes (c), 11 Ioan Nicholas, 10 Dan Jones, 9 Sam Hidalgo-Clyne, 8 Uzair Cassiem, 7 Josh Macleod, 6 Will Boyde, 5 David Bulbring, 4 Steve Cummins, 3 Werner Kruger, 2 Marc Jones, 1 Phil Price.
Subs: 16 Dafydd Hughes, 17 Dylan Evans, 18 Simon Gardiner, 19 Tom Price, 20 Josh Helps, 21 Kieran Hardy, 22 Morgan Williams, 23 Ed Kennedy.
CHEETAHS vs CARDIFF BLUES, Saturday, 7:15pm
The Cheetahs sacrificed their 2018 Currie Cup season, and potentially their Premier Division status, in favour of the Pro14 campaign. With that in mind, five defeats and a draw from six matches is just not good enough. Starting against the Blues, the Cheetahs simply have to turn their season around.
When these sides met in round five in September, the Cheetahs blew an 11-point lead in the last quarter to lose 24-21 in Cardiff. It’s true that the Cheetahs played well in that game, but a lapse in concentration in the closing stages cost them. That has always been the Cheetahs’ Achilles heel.
To avoid a similar fate, the Cheetahs have to front up for the 80 minutes in Bloemfontein on Saturday. In the precarious position they find themselves in, they can’t afford not to.
Like the Kings, there are a few debutants – wing Rhyno Smith, reserve hooker Reinach Venter and reserve utility forward Sintu Manjezi – in the match 23. Smith, who recently joined the side from the Sharks, has been fast-tracked into the starting lineup at the expense of Nico Lee, who is the leading tackler in the competition after six rounds.
Ex-Western Province, Boland and Lions lock George Earle will start for the Cardiff Blues against his compatriots.
Cheetahs – 15 Malcolm Jaer, 14 Rhyno Smith, 13 Benhard Janse van Rensburg, 12 William Small-Smith, 11 Rabz Maxwane, 10 Tian Schoeman, 9 Shaun Venter (c), 8 Niell Jordaan, 7 Junior Pokomela, 6 Gerhard Olivier, 5 JP du Preez, 4 Walt Steenkamp, 3 Aranos Coetzee, 2 Joseph Dweba, 1 Ox Nche.
Subs: 16 Reinach Venter, 17 Charles Marais , 18 Erich de Jager, 19 Sinthu Manjezi, 20 Abongile Nonkontwana, 21 Tian Meyer, 22 Louis Fouche, 23 Nico Lee.
Cardiff Blues – 15 Matthew Morgan, 14 Jason Harries, 13 Garyn Smith, 12 Rey Lee-Lo, 11 Aled Summerhill, 10 Steve Shingler, 9 Lloyd Williams (c), 8 Seb Davies, 7 Olly Robinson, 6 Josh Turnbull, 5 Rory Thornton, 4 George Earle, 3 Scott Andrews, 2 Ethan Lewis, 1 Brad Thyer.
Subs: 16 Liam Belcher, 17 Rhys Gill, 18 Keiron Assiratti, 19 Samu Manoa, 20 Nick Williams, 21 Lewis Jones, 22 Dan Fish, 23 Willis Halaholo.
Photo: Ben Evans/Huw Evans Agency/Gallo Images/Getty Images