With the pre-season rust shaken off, there will be no excuses on Saturday in the last three Super Rugby games of the weekend.
First-up the Cheetahs travel to Hamilton where they will be out to get their tour off to a positive start against the defending champions.
The last time the Chiefs played at Waikato Stadium they lifted the trophy, and after their solid start last week they will be eyeing a full house against the team from Bloemfontein.
In Pretoria the Bulls will want to make the most of their homeground advantage against a Force side that will be low on confidence after starting the season with two consecutive losses.
The weekend wraps up in Durban with the big South African derby between the Sharks and the Stormers, which should end the round with a bang if recent clashes between these teams are anything to go by.
We take a closer look at all the Saturday matches:
Chiefs v Cheetahs
(Waikato Stadium, Hamilton - Kick-off: 19.35; 06.35 GMT)
After taking on last year's beaten finalists the Sharks in Bloemfontein last week, things get even tougher for the Cheetahs as they face the defending champion Chiefs in their own back yard.
The Chiefs delivered a polished performance to down the Highlanders in Dunedin last week, and they will be intent on putting on a show for their home fans against the Cheetahs, who fought back valiantly but came up short against the Sharks.
The visitors will know that they cannot afford to give the Chiefs the kind of head-start they allowed the Sharks, but that is easier said than done against coach Dave Rennie's ultra-consistent outfit.
The Chiefs will look to expose the Cheetahs forwards in the set-pieces and put their dangerous backline under pressure by keeping them in their own half without the ball.
As underdogs the Cheetahs should look to play to their strengths, which means we should see some slick passing and free running as they take the game to the Chiefs, but the true test will come up front against a tough Chiefs pack.
Whilst the Cheetahs have the ability to create a try out of nothing, they cannot expect to beat the Chiefs by living on scraps, so they will have to treasure possession when they get it in order to stop the Chiefs from building the momentum that they thrive on.
The Chiefs forwards are accurate at the breakdown, and if they create opportunities from turnovers they have the speed out wide to make the opposition pay.
The Cheetahs are one of the most attractive attacking sides around, and they will test the Chiefs' well-organised defence, but it is likeyl to be the visitors' work without the ball which defines their challenge in Hamilton.
Prediction: The Cheetahs are always good to watch, but they are up against a far more balanced team on their home turf, so the Chiefs should take this one by about seven points.
Chiefs: 15 Gareth Anscombe, 14 Lelia Masaga, 13 Tim Nanai-Williams, 12 Bundee Aki, 11 Asaeli Tikoirotuma, 10 Aaron Cruden, 9 Augustine Pulu, 8 Fritz Lee, 7 Sam Cane, 6 Liam Messam (captain), 5 Brodie Retallick, 4 Michael Fitzgerald, 3 Ben Afeaki, 2 Hika Elliot, 1 Pauliasi Manu.
Replacements: 16 Rhys Marshall, 17 Ben Tameifuna, 18 Craig Clarke, 19 Tanerau Latimer, 20 Tawera Kerr-Barlow, 21 Charlie Ngatai, 22 Patrick Osborne.
Cheetahs: 15 Hennie Daniller, 14 Willie le Roux, 13 Johann Sadie, 12 Robert Ebersohn, 11 Raymond Rhule, 10 Johan Goosen, 9 Sarel Pretorius, 8 Philip van der Walt, 7 Pieter Labuschagne, 6 Frans Viljoen, 5 Francois Uys, 4 Lodewyk de Jager, 3 Lourens Adriaanse, 2 Adriaan Strauss (captain), 1 Trevor Nyakane.
Replacements: 16 Ryno Barnes, 17 Coenie Oosthuizen, 18 Rynhard Landman, 19 Johannes Prinsloo, 20 Piet van Zyl, 21 Riaan Smith, 22 Ryno Benjamin.
Referee: Mike Fraser (New Zealand)
Assistant referees: Garratt Williamson (New Zealand), Glen Jackson (New Zealand)
TMO: Vinny Munro (New Zealand)
Bulls v Western Force
(Loftus Versfeld, Pretoria - Kick-off: 17.05; 15.05 GMT)
If the Force thought their clash with a fired-up Kings side in Port Elizabeth last week was tough, then they should brace themselves for what awaits at Loftus Versveld.
Having started their season with consecutives losses to the Rebels and the Kings, the Perth side will have to play out of their boots if they are to contend with the three-time champions who saw off the Stormers in Pretoria last week.
The Force will have their hands full dealing with the physicality of the Bulls, but perhaps the greater challenge will be handling the territorial pressure that the home side will look to put them under.
Morne Steyn kept the Stormers pinned in their own half last week, which allowed his big forward pack to impose themselves, so the Force will need some efficient exit strategies if they are to give themselves a chance at altitude in front of the Loftus faithful.
If anyone is in any doubt about the approach the Bulls will take, the selection of the imposing Jacques Potgieter and Arno Botha in place of injured loose forwards Dewald Potgieter and Deon Stegmann should clear things right up. They will be out to bully the Force and test their commitment by throwing some big ball-carriers their way.
Another factor which counts against the Force is their erratic goal-kicking which has let them down in both of their matches this year, which is something that they can simply not afford on Saturday. If they do manage to stand up to the Bulls, they will need to take every scoring opportunity in order to cause an upset.
Prediction: The Force will feel they have a point to prove after their disappointing start to the season, but they do not have an answer for the power of the Bulls so the home side should win this by at least 15 points.
Bulls: 15 Zane Kirchner, 14 Sampie Mastriet, 13 Lionel Mapoe, 12 Wynand Olivier, 11 Bjorn Basson, 10 Morné Steyn, 9 Francois Hougaard, 8 Pierre Spies, 7 Jacques Potgieter, 6 Arno Botha, 5 Juandre Kruger, 4 Flip van der Merwe, 3 Werner Kruger, 2 Chiliboy Ralepelle, 1 Morné Mellet.
Replacements: 16 Willie Wepener, 17 Frik Kirsten, 18 Grant Hattingh, 19 Jean Cook, 20 Jano Vermaak, 21 Louis Fouché, 22 Jan Serfontein.
Western Force: TBC
Referee: Jason Jaftha (South Africa)
Assistant referees: Lourens van der Merwe (South Africa), Sieg van Staden (South Africa)
TMO: Johan Greeff (South Africa)
Sharks v Stormers
(King's Park, Durban - Kick-off: 19.10; 17.10 GMT)
The two coastal franchises have developed a fierce rivalry in recent years, and although both sides have made it clear that past results are irrelevant, this should be a typically uncompromising battle.
The Sharks' set-pieces looked solid against the Cheetahs last week, but they will face a much tougher challenge on Saturday against a physical Stormers pack that will be desperate to bounce back from an indifferent performance against the Bulls.
Whilse the Stormers will be intent on sorting their set-pieces out, Sharks coach John Plumtree was not happy with his team's work at the breakdown last week so they will be looking for more accuracy on the ground.
There is not likely to be much space for the outside backs to exploit, as both teams use aggressive defensive systems and should be right in each other's faces from start to finish.
Another factor that may prevent them from taking an expansive approach will be the humid conditions. Durban can be a sweaty place at this time of year, so handling will be a challenge for both sides which could result in a more direct game.
There will be many intriguing match-ups, but the flyhalf battle will be central. Elton Jantjies will be desperate to bounce back from his jittery display last week, whilst Pat lambie will want to deliver another composed performance under pressure.
After their rusty start last week, Stormers coach Allister Coetzee knows that there is no room for excuses at Kings Park.
"We have got to get it right this week. We are playing against another top quality side - they will ask a lot of questions of us. We are aware of the challenge.
"It will be tough and the best we can do is stop worrying about what people think and say and how good other teams are," he said.
Whilst Coetzee is well-aware of the many threats that the rounded Sharks pose, his focus has been on getting his own house in order.
"We have to get it right here, with us. We have to put the pressure on ourselves to lift the standard and get it right. We must execute the plan that has been worked out," he said.
Prediction: This will be another tight contest, but the Sharks have home advantage which should see them win by a narrow margin of about three points.
Sharks: 15 Louis Ludik, 14 JP Pietersen, 13 Paul Jordaan, 12 Francois Steyn (captain), 11 Lwazi Mvovo, 10 Patrick Lambie, 9 Cobus Reinach, 8 Ryan Kankowski, 7 Jean Deysel, 6 Marcell Coetzee, 5 Franco van der Merwe, 4 Anton Bresler, 3 Jannie du Plessis, 2 Craig Burden, 1 Tendai Mtawarira.
Replacements: 16 Kyle Cooper, 17 Wiehahn Herbst, 18 Pieter-Steph du Toit, 19 Jacques Botes, 20 Charl McLeod, 21 Meyer Bosman, 22 Odwa Ndungane.
Stormers: 15 Joe Pietersen, 14 Gio Aplon, 13 Jean de Villiers (captain), 12 Damian de Allende, 11 Bryan Habana, 10 Elton Jantjies, 9 Nic Groom, 8 Duane Vermeulen, 7 Rynhardt Elstadt, 6 Siya Kolisi, 5 Andries Bekker, 4 De Kock Steenkamp, 3 Frans Malherbe, 2 Deon Fourie, 1 Steven Kitshoff.
Replacements: 16 Martin Bezuidenhout, 17 Pat Cilliers, 18 Don Armand, 19 Nizaam Carr, 20 Louis Schreuder, 21 Peter Grant, 22 Gerhard van den Heever.
Referee: Jonathan Kaplan (South Africa)
Assistant referees: Jaco Peyper (South Africa), Cobus Wessels (South Africa)
TMO: Shaun Veldsman (South Africa)
By Michael de Vries
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