The Bulls and Lions are primed and primed for their United Rugby Championship clashes against Zebre and Leinster respectively on Friday night.
The Bulls are in Italy for their meeting with Zebre at the Stadio Sergio Lanfranchi (kick-off 7.30pm) and are aiming for nothing less than a bonus point win to take the game away.
A powerful Bulls team was designated for the game on Thursday, with just three changes on their side from their previous game against the Sharks, the biggest of which was Chris Smith who stepped in at flyhalf for the suspended Morne Steyn.
The team should have more than enough firepower to send out a slightly weakened Zebre, who is missing a few players in Six Nations service, but even with a full squad, Zebre may not be able to compete with the Bulls.
Zebre is at the bottom of the URC table, having lost all seven games so far while taking just one point, and is seen as an easy contest for teams to rack up a full house of points.
The Bulls have also steadily improved since their poor start to the season and they can use the Zebre game to make a big statement and build good momentum en route to a nice run of home games against foreign opposition.
Conversely, the Lions are in Ireland, where they face the unenviable task of trying to take on the top of Leinster at Dublin’s RDS Arena (kick-off 9:35pm).
Leinster will miss a slew of Irish internationals for the game, but with their squad’s impressive depth and playing against a poorly shooting Lions outfit, they’ll think their chances of taking a bonus point win on their home turf are great.
The Lions are entering the massive game in terrible form, having been comfortably beaten in all of their recent local derbies, three of which have been at home, and they face a formidable task of somehow overthrowing that form. against the best team in the league.
It will no doubt be a baptism of fire for many of the Lions youngsters who are not yet as successful as Leinster, although the tourists will point to a spirited performance against a strong Ulster team earlier in the season.
However, the chances of the Lions walking away from the game with a win are pretty slim and they will do well to put on a positive show and make Leinster work for the result while trying to deny them a full points house.
If the Lions can improve and make a game out of it, they can return to SA with their heads held high and gear up for a favorable run of home games in the coming months.