The Toyota Free State Cheetahs are the firm favourites to earn a home semi-final and possible home final in the 2016 Currie Cup premier division.
Just eight games remain before the knockout round of the competition and the Cheetahs are comfortably leading the standings on 29 points with two games remaining for the side.
The Sharks and the Blue Bulls are the two teams battling it out for the second home semi-final but have to secure wins in their last matches.
The Sharks will have to deal with the Golden Lions, while the Bulls have the slightly easier task of facing the Boland Cavaliers, albeit an away match.
Having said that, the Griquas, Western Province and Lions all have two games remaining and could all possibly secure that important home semi-final berth, but they will all have to win their remaining games.
For the Griquas, who have been exceptionally impressive this season, the task may be a bridge too far with matches against Province and the Cheetahs coming up, while the Lions will tackle the EP Kings and Sharks, and Province’s other remaining match is against Boland.
While the excitement is mounting in the Cheetahs camp, they are trying their utmost to remain level headed and are aware that a slip-up this weekend against the Pumas or next weekend against what will be a fired Griquas side, could spell disaster.
The team’s coach, Franco Smith, told Voice that they don’t just want to play in the final.
“There is still a lot of rugby lying ahead, we’re not going to get carried away,” said Smith.
“We train to win the final and not to just play in it, but there is still a lot of rugby to be played.”
The hooker, Torsten van Jaarsveld, led the team during their 37-29 win over the Lions last week and could easily have been named as the Man of the Match for his outstanding performance.
Van Jaarsveld says that to him each and every game is personal and they want to win their supporters back.
“It’s a personal battle for me against the Lions or any other team that we play, I try to make it personal in every game that I play,” said Van Jaarsveld.
“We’ve worked really hard over the last year and we didn’t get the rewards we wanted in the Super Rugby.
“We’re trying to get out supporters back and we’re fighting really hard. I hope the people take notice.”
Good news for the Cheetahs is that the seasoned captain and centre, Francois Venter, has been given the all clear to play following his ankle injury and is available for selection this weekend. The exciting winger, Sergeal Petersen, has also resumed training following the knee injury he sustained against the Cavaliers in the opening round. Whether or not he will be available this weekend, remains to be seen.
The Cheetahs will tackle the Pumas on Friday evening, with kick-off at the Mbombela Stadium in Nelspruit at 18:45. – MORGAN PIEK