The winner of the match between the Sharks and the Lions will almost certainly top the South African Super Rugby conference at the end of this contest.
The Sharks currently lead the South African Conference but a Lions victory in Durban would see the Lions overtake them. The Bulls can't overtake these two even if they draw so the winner will top the conference. A draw will see the Sharks retain their lead.
The Sharks and the Lions have played each other 18 times since 1998 and the Sharks have won 13 times and the Lions three times. Over the years there have been two draws between the teams the most recent of which was in 2011.
That gives the Sharks a record of winning 72% of their matches against the Lions.
The average score across all venues when the Sharks play the Lions is : Sharks 30 Lions 19.
This weekend the match will be in Durban so the Sharks have home advantage. Since 1998 the Sharks have had home advantage over the Lions on 9 occasions and they have won 8 times and lost just once.
Crucially the only time the Lions managed to beat the Sharks was back in 2000 when Laurie Mains coached them to the Semi-finals. That sole victory was also a one point win as the score was 27-28 to the Lions.
The Sharks therefore have a record of winning 89% of their matches against the Lions in Durban.
The average score when the Sharks play the Lions in Durban is : Sharks 32 Lions 15.
The Sharks have won their last seven matches at home against the Lions and in those seven matches they have had bonus point wins in six of them.
In terms of selection the Sharks have named an unchanged team for the third week running. In previous years the Sharks have been severely tested in depth so naming unchanged teams has been a rare event.
The Sharks have played both of their matches so far at home and with unchanged teams so they are extremely familiar with their surroundings.
Meanwhile the Lions have taken the surprising move of bringing in Elton Jantjies at flyhalf which pushes Marnitz Boshoff to fullback.
Boshoff played fullback primarily when he was with the Bulls but with the Lions this year he has been one of the most talked about players so playing him out of the position that he has excelled in is a brave move.
Even starting Jantjies would have been considered a brave move given his lack of game time but bringing him at the expense of Boshoff is very brave.
Also in the backline Chrysander Botha starts at left wing and Ruan Combrinck moves across to right wing and Deon van Rensburg will start at outside centre.
Lions coach Ackermann has made just one change to the forwards by bringing in Willie Wepener to the starting line-up in the hooker berth while Robbie Coetzee shifts to the bench to provide cover.
The Bookies have given the Lions a 12 point start for this Match - with an offer of a FREE $150 BET. The Bulls might have helped the Sharks last week as they showed how to disrupt the Lions game and with home advantage the Sharks go into this match unbeaten so far and big favourites. The Sharks should win by 14.
This Match will be shown on TV in NZ, Aus, SA and in the UK on Sky Sports 2/HD.
Average score: Sharks 30 Lions 19
Last five results
02 Jun 2012 Sharks v Lions 28-38 Johannesburg
10 Mar 2012 Sharks v Lions 32-20 Durban
11 Jun 2011 Sharks v Lions 30-30 Johannesburg
09 Apr 2011 Sharks v Lions 27-3 Durban
17 Apr 2010 Sharks v Lions 32-28 Johannesburg
Sharks overall record against the Lions
Played 18 Wins 13 Losses 3 Draws 2
Match No. 22: Sharks vs Lions
Date :Saturday 8 March
Venue : Kings Park
Kick Off local: 19:10
Referee: Jaco Peyper
Assistant Ref 1: Stuart Berry
Assistant Ref 2: Cobus Wessels
TMO: Shaun Veldsman
15. SP Marais , 14. Odwa Ndungane , 13. Paul Jordaan , 12. Frans Steyn , 11. Lwazi Mvovo , 10. Patrick Lambie , 9. Cobus Reinach , 8. Ryan Kankowski , 7. Willem Alberts , 6. Marcell Coetzee , 5. Pieter-Steph du Toit , 4. Anton Bresler , 3. Jannie du Plessis , 2. Bismarck du Plessis (C) , 1. Tendai Mtawarira
Replacements : 16. Kyle Cooper , 17. Dale Chadwick , 18. Lourens Adriaanse , 19. Stephan Lewies , 20. Jean Deysel , 21. Charl McLeod , 22. Heimar Williams , 23. S'bura Sithole
15. Marnitz Boshoff,14. Ruan Combrinck ,13. Deon van Rensburg ,12. Stefan Watermeyer,11. Chrysander Botha,10. Elton Jantjies,9. Faf de Klerk,8. Warren Whiteley (c),7. Warwick Tecklenburg,6. Jaco Kriel,5. Franco van der Merwe,4. Franco Mostert,3. Julian Redelinghuys,2. Willie Wepener,1. Schalk van der Merwe
Replacements :16. Robbie Coetzee,17. Corne Fourie,18. Ruan Dreyer,19. MB Lusaseni ,20. Willie Britz,21. Ross Cronje,22. JW Jonker,23. Coenie van Wyk