Cheetahs determined to retain status
Free State Cheetahs coach Naka Drotske believes his side can see off the Eastern Province Kings' challenge in Friday's promotion/relegation game in Bloemfontein.
The clash is the first of two play-off matches with the return leg being in Port Elizabeth a week later.
The Kings will be looking to gain momentum in Bloem and deal the final blow at home, but it will not be easy against a highly motivated Cheetahs outfit.
"The players know that it is of the utmost importance that we pull off the win," said Drotske.
"The Kings are eager to play in the Currie Cup so we are well aware of the threat they pose, but we're not going to hand our place in the competition to them on a silver platter.
"The players are switched on and there is a new intensity within the camp, so we're ready for the challenge."
The Kings have shown throughout their campaign in the First Division of the Currie Cup they are the side to beat, finishing their season unbeaten and claiming the title by beating the Pumas in the final.
"We play at a different level than the Kings, but we know they will be motivated," he said.
"We must ensure that they don't get their game-plan going.
"They are a well balanced side with a good forward pack and their back three is also very dangerous.
"We wouldn't want to give them any space on the attack and will be looking to slow down their possession as well."
Kings captain and centre Wayne Stevens believed his side's unbeaten record will come in handy against a Cheetahs side that has only won three of their 10 Currie Cup group games this season.
"We are unbeaten thus far and when you get used to that, it's something you want to keep on doing," Stevens said.
"We've gained a lot of momentum by claiming the First Division title and the team is motivated to play Currie Cup. It is definitely something that counts in our favour."
Even though the hosts have the odds stacked against them, Stevens believed the Kings will have to throw everything at the hosts if they want to be in the better position come the second encounter.
"We know what position the Free State Cheetahs are in and that makes them a dangerous side," he said.
"We have to make the step-up, because they've played in a much stronger competition.
"It will be a tougher challenge than we've been involved in before.
"You're only as good as the last game you played and therefor we need to be up there."