The Sharks have secured a Currie Cup home semifinal, but five teams are in with a chance of nabbing three remaining places when the final round takes place this weekend.
Western Province‚ the Free State Cheetahs‚ Golden Lions‚ Blue Bulls and Pumas are second to fifth respectively with just six points covering those teams.
WP let a golden chance to secure their place slip when they lost on Sunday 29-20 to the Golden Lions at Ellis Park, where they conceded 19 unanswered points in the process.
That result moved the Lions to fourth on the standings on 30 points‚ a point behind Free State and the teams clash at Ellis Park this weekend in a match that could eliminate one of them.
If the Cheetahs can take at least two bonus points from the match, they will be in to the last four and the Lions simply have to win to qualify although they could sneak in the back door if they lose, but take one point from the match‚ depending how other results go.
To muddy the waters further, WP meet the log-leaders Sharks in Durban. The Sharks have won 10 in a row and even though they are nearly lapping the field‚ they will not be doing WP any favours.
A chance to eliminate their great rivals from the play-off race is a big incentive for Robert du Preez’s men, but if WP gain a bonus point, they will secure their place in the top four.
The Sharks will also use the match as a tribute to wing Odwa Ndungane‚ who will retire at the end of the season after 12 years at the union.
"Odwa Ndungane epitomises what it means to be a professional rugby player and over the years, his dedication‚ loyalty and contribution to the team remained unwavering‚" coach Du Preez said.
"It is fitting that we honour a player that has given so much to the game with a tribute match that will highlight his tremendous career."
The Blue Bulls are still in the race‚ five points adrift of second place on 27. On Friday they meet the Pumas who have 26 points and also have a mathematical chance of making the semis.