The Vodacom Blue Bulls are in play-off mode already even though they need to win their last regular Absa Currie Cup fixture first in order to qualify for any play-offs.
The reality is though that they will have to beat the MTN Golden Lions at Coca-Cola Park tomorrow to perhaps play in next weekend’s final four and even that could prove fruitless.
If Griquas beat The Sharks tonight and the Free State Cheetahs shock Western Province, the Bulls could be forced to win with a bonus point. This is one of many scenario’s for the side, but one fact remains. If the Blue Bulls lose in Johannesburg, they will NOT be playing in next weekend’s semi-finals, but most probably be entertaining the EP Kings at Loftus in a promotion relegation match.
“We are still in a position to win the Currie Cup and will give everything we can in order to do so,” coach Pine Pienaar said earlier in the week.
The Bulls are determined to win this clash after missing out on last year's semi-finals for the first time in a decade and there will be extra motivation after they lost 32-23 to the Lions at Loftus Versfeld in the corresponding match earlier this year.
Although they will be boosted by the return of several Springboks, the performance of fly-half Mornè Steyn will be closely scrutinised.
Dropped for the final two Rugby Championship matches, he will be keen to prove to Bok coach Heyneke Meyer that he is not a spent force in the international arena.
Steyn's battle with Lions pivot Butch James will be one of the most important match-ups in this encounter.
MTN Golden Lions: 15 Ruan Combrinck, 14 Deon Helberg, 13 Deon van Rensburg, 12 Alwyn Hollenbach, 11 Anthony Volmink, 10 Butch James (c), 9 Ross Cronje, 8 Willie Britz, 7 Derick Minnie, 6 Jaco Kriel, 5 Ruan Botha, 4 Michael Rhodes, 3 Pat Cilliers, 2 Callie Visagie, 1 CJ van der Linde. Replacements: 16 Bandise Maku, 17 Jacobie Adriaanse, 18 Paul Willemse, 19 Warren Whiteley, 20 Whestley Moolman, 21 Elton Jantjies, 22 Lionel Mapoe.
Vodacom Blue Bulls: 15 Zane Kirchner, 14 Akona Ndungane, 13 JJ Engelbrecht, 12 Francois Venter, 11 Bjorn Basson, 10 Mornè Steyn, 9 Jano Vermaak, 8 Arno Botha, 7 Jacques Potgieter, 6 Dewald Potgieter (c), 5 Flip van der Merwe, 4 Juandrè Kruger, 3 Werner Kruger, 2 Willie Wepener, 1 Mornè Mellett. Replacements: 16 Chiliboy Ralepelle, 17 Frik Kirsten, 18 Wilhelm Steenkamp, 19 CJ Stander, 20 Francois Hougaard, 21 Louis Fouchè, 22 Dean Greyling.
Referee: Craig Joubert
Assistants: Lourens van der Merwe, Stefan Breytenbach
Television Match Official: Johan Greeff
Last meeting: 8 September in Pretoria (First round): Lions won 32-23
Prediction (SA RUGBY.com): With the Lions not fielding their strongest XV and the Bulls' Boks back, there can be only one winner. Bulls to win by eight points which secures them the final play-off position.