The unpredictability of the opening rounds of the Absa Currie Cup has kept pundits guessing, with five away-wins in nine matches.
But despite the unpredictability of the scores, one factor which has been consistent is the South African tradition of closely fought forward battles.
This weekend will be no different with the packs set to take centre stage as the teams look to gain momentum in the competition.
The MTN Golden Lions meet DHL Western Province at Ellis Park in the opening match of the weekend on Friday, and on Saturday the Toyota Free State Cheetahs take on GWK Griquas in Bloemfontein and The Sharks face the Vodacom Blue Bulls in Durban.
The Sharks vs Vodacom Blue Bulls
At the Shark tank the Vodacom Blue Bulls will be desperate to bounce back from their annihilation last week, but the Sharks come off back-to-back wins and will want to build on their steady improvement.
With Blue Bulls flyhalves Tony Jantjies and Louis Fouche injured, 2012 Junior World Championship-winning back Handrè Pollard will make his Absa Currie Cup debut at flyhalf in what will be the biggest test so far in his career.
He will go up against exciting Sharks flyhalf Fred Zeilinga.
In the Sharks camp, meanwhile, former Griquas looseforward Justin Downey makes a welcome return to the Durban-based side on the bench after four seasons in Kimberley.
Similarly to the other encounters, the battle up-front will significant, but both teams also have backs with the potential to could convert the match into a spectacle if it opens up.
The clash will mark a special day in Sharks replacement scrumhalf Charl McLeod’s career as he will earn his 50th Currie Cup cap, which should inspire him to deliver a memorable performance.
The Sharks: SP Marais; Odwa Ndungane, Louis Ludik, Heimar Williams, Lwazi Mvovo; Fred Zeilinga, Cobus Reinach; Jacques Botes (capt), Jean Deysel, Keegan Daniel; Marco Wentzel, Peet Marais; Wiehahn Herbst, Craig Burden, Dale Chadwick. Replacements: Kyle Cooper, Rayno Gerber, Edwin Hewitt, Justin Downey, Charl McLeod, Butch James, Jaco van Tonder.
Vodacom Blue Bulls: Jürgen Visser; Sampie Mastriet, Waylon Murray, Ulrich Beyers, Akona Ndungane; Handrè Pollard, Ruan Snyman; Jono Ross (capt), Jacques du Plessis, Wiaan Liebenberg; Grant Hattingh, Paul Willemse; Frik Kirsten, Mbongeni Mbonambi, Morné Mellett. Replacements: Bandise Maku, Werner Kruger, David Bullbring, Jacques Engelbrecht, Rudy Paige, Tiaan Schoeman, Clayton Blommetjies.
Referee: Jonathan Kaplan
Assistant Referees: Quinton Immelman, Reuben Rossouw
TMO: Shaun Veldsman
Venue: GrowthPoint Kings Park, Durban