Western Province see this weekend’s clash against the Golden Lions as a must-win game to give them a cushion in the latter stage of the Currie Cup competition.
Both teams are undefeated in the truncated version of the tournament at the halfway mark‚ although the Lions have played an extra match.
Although defeat won’t end either team’s play-off prospects‚ for WP an away win would give them room for a loss later in the competition.
Coach John Dobson has picked a massive pack to keep the Lions in the battle at close quarters rather than let the game open up‚ which would play into the Joburgers hands.
“Territory won’t be as important as possession in this game‚” Dobson said.
“The Lions have averaged around 60% possession this season and we need to get on top of that.
“This is a huge game for us because the most palatable solution for us is win this one and give ourselves some breathing room later.
“We struggle to catch the Lions (in a race for top spot) if they win this game. But it is exciting and this will be a cracking Currie Cup game.”
Captain Chris van Zyl will make his first Currie Cup start at Ellis Park.
Having played off the replacements bench in the last game against lock Van Zyl takes over the captaincy.
Van Zyl will partner JD Schickerling in the second row‚ with Ernst van Rhyn shifting to blindside flank and Kobus van Dyk at openside.
Salmaan Moerat and Chris Massyn will provide cover on the replacements bench.
There is one change to the front row as Michael Kumbirai comes back into the starting line-up at tighthead and Carlu Sadie makes his first appearance of the season among the replacements.
The only change to the backline sees Dan Kriel back at inside centre‚ with scrumhalf Paul de Wet getting an opportunity on the replacements bench.
"We know that we will have to be accurate in all areas and sustain our effort until the final whistle if we are to come away with a win this weekend‚” Dobson said.
"Our preparations have gone well following our bye last week‚ but the key will be putting those plans into action on Saturday‚" he said.
Western Province: 15 Dillyn Leyds‚ 14 Sergeal Petersen‚ 13 Ruhan Nel‚ 12 Dan Kriel‚ 11 SP Marais‚ 10 Josh Stander‚ 9 Jano Vermaak‚ 8 Juarno Augustus‚ 7 Ernst van Rhyn‚ 6 Kobus van Dyk‚ 5 JD Schickerling‚ 4 Chris van Zyl (captain)‚ 3 Michael Kumbirai‚ 2 Scarra Ntubeni‚ 1 Ali Vermaak.
Replacements: 16 Chad Solomon‚ 17 Caylib Oosthuizen‚ 18 Carlu Sadie‚ 19 Salmaan Moerat‚ 20 Chris Massyn‚ 21 Paul de Wet‚ 22 Dan du Plessis.