The SA team with the advantage heading into URC's final round
SPOTLIGHT: The United Rugby Championship enters its final round-robin stage this weekend and there will be a few intriguing showdowns with the South African Shield and home quarterfinals on the line.
The Sharks, who will be bolstered by the return of Lukhanyo Am for their clash against Ulster, are currently the highest-placed SA team in third position in the overall standings.
They are tied on log points (56) with second-placed Munster and the fourth-placed Stormers.
The Bulls are in sixth position on 53 points.
With points difference dead even on 148, the Sharks are ahead of the Stormers because they have scored one more try this season.
However, the Stormers will have a slight advantage heading into the final round.
They will know before kick-off in their match against Scarlets in Llanelli on Saturday what they will need in order to claim the SA Shield and secure home ground advantage in the last eight.
This is because the Sharks and Bulls will both be in action on Friday.
The Sharks have a tough fixture in Belfast, while the Bulls are in Swansea to face Ospreys.
Story continues below…
“We are preparing to perform as good as we can. We are preparing to come onto that field and have no regrets and make sure that we give everything,” said Stormers assistant coach Rito Hlungwani.
“Regardless, of the other results, we want to control the things that we can.
“It is maybe a bit of a benefit that we are playing after the two [Bulls and Sharks] games, but the focus for us is making sure that we improve from our last game.
“If we come off the field feeling like we improved then we will be very happy, regardless of what the teams before us do.”
Many have felt that the Stormers have exceeded expectations already this season by qualifying for the play-offs and securing a Champions Cup spot, but that doesn’t mean there is any less pressure on the team.
“The pressure will never go away and that is the pressure on us to get better every single week,” said Hlungwani.
“It’s a little bit of a milestone that we have qualified, and we are quite happy with that, but the biggest pressure that we put on ourselves is to be better versions of ourselves.”