This weekend's ABSA Currie Cup semi-finals see the traditional powerhouses of the competition - Western Province and the Blue Bulls - as the underdogs in their respective clashes.
Province who will face the Lions in Johannesburg have not won a Currie Cup since 2001, while the Bulls who are taking on the Sharks in Durban, last made a final appearance in 2009.
The Bulls were not just in danger of missing the semi-finals this season but were also flirting with relegation. They've approached every match over the past month as a potential knock-out. The team feels if they start off well, they'll have the edge.
“We saw when we limited our mistakes on attack and defence towards the latter part of the game our momentum improved. We can't afford a bad start in a semi-final especially against a team like the sharks,” Blue Bulls Captain Dewald Potgieter said.
The Sharks, meanwhile, want to strike the right balance between showing faith in the players that brought them this far and using their returning Springboks at the right time.
Some of their national players are on the bench and will be used as impact players. Western Province are taking a different approach, they started their Springboks against the Cheetahs and it paid off. Injuries have sidelined three of them, but the coach has confidence in those who are filling their shoes.
“I was a bit nervous last weekend that the team might not gel with the returning players but not only did the springboks play well but the rest raised their level as well which was very pleasing,” said Western Province Coach Alistair Coetzee.
The Lions rested key players last weekend and lost to the Bulls, but they beat Province twice this year and got the better of them in last year's semi-final as well.