Local derby action between the Hollywoodbets Sharks and Toyota Cheetahs resumes this weekend when the two old foes meet in Bloemfontein in Sunday’s round two EPCR Challenge Cup clash.

These teams have rarely met in recent times with the changes in the rugby landscape over the last few years, but going back, the two old foes have a rich history of competitive rugby. It’s never easy to predict a result between the two teams, and Bloemfontein has not always been a happy hunting ground for visiting teams.

But history records count for little when there are new challenges ahead and for the Hollywoodbets Sharks, this match takes on huge importance, not only in the context of the tournament, but in the team’s evolution.

Hollywoodbets Sharks head coach John Plumtree is aware of the test his team faces, acknowledging the opposition’s threat.

“We expect this game against the Cheetahs to be a really tough challenge,” he said in the build-up to the game. “Bloemfontein is never an easy place for a visiting side to go to and a 3pm kick-off also makes life a bit niggly for us.

“I think they’ll be hoping we’re not in the right place mentally for this challenge and that’s been a big focus for us.”

Consistency in performance and the accompanying results is also a big part of the team’s attention as they continue to develop and grow, and this week is an opportunity to achieve just that.

“We just want to keep improving our game: we’ve had moments where we’ve been very good and then times when we haven’t been so good. So a lot of our focus is around playing consistently well over the full 80 minutes with and without the ball.”

Plumtree has named an almost unchanged line-up for this match which always bodes well for a team looking for consistency.

“It’s good to have some continuity in selection, but also off the bench as well, making sure the players coming off the bench understand the importance of their roles.”

Cheetahs’ assistant coach Izak van der Westhuizen admits that his team relish the opportunity to have a go at the Hollywoodbets Sharks and with it the chance to measure themselves against South African opposition. As well as to showcase their potential and ability to compete at the highest levels.

“We all have dreams here at the Free State for the union to go further and compete more often in an international competition, so for us it is definitely an opportunity to show what we are made of,” he said.

He added that containing the Hollywoodbets Sharks’ attack will be paramount to their game plan if they want to come out on top.

“They want to play enterprising rugby, so the slower we can make it at the breakdown points, the better for us. It will also give our defence an opportunity to be in their faces.”