Neither team has any form to speak of, with the Chiefs managed just one win in the last six weeks and the Lions nothing in the victory column in the same period.
However, Chiefs coach Dave Rennie put it succinctly when said they remain in control of their own destiny. “This is a defining match for us,” Rennie said.
“We have boxed ourselves into a corner with recent results and now we need to come out fighting.”
Lions coach Johan Ackermann, who has been careful not to overstate his team’s early-season success or create too much expectation of his inexperienced outfit, admitted they could be on the wrong end of a big backlash.
“Our luck hasn’t changed much,” Ackermann said, adding: “We hit the Bulls after three losses, so they were quite desperate. Then we went down to the Stormers and they were under the cosh and media pressure. The same with the Crusaders going to South Africa – they were under the pump. “We have just seen the media reports that the Chiefs are under pressure after losing a few games in a row now, and they have made it quite clear that they want to put things right in Hamilton.
“It does not come tougher than playing the defending champions at home, but we are looking forward to the challenge.”
2012: Chiefs won 34-21, Pukekohe
2011: Chiefs won 34-30, Johannesburg
2010: Chiefs won 72-65, Johannesburg
2009: Chiefs won 36-29, Hamilton
2008: Lions won 33-27, Johannesburg
2007: Chiefs won 34-7, Hamilton
Chiefs: 15 Tim Nanai-Williams, 14 Dwayne Sweeney, 13 Charlie Ngatai, 12 Tom Marshall, 11 James Lowe, 10 Gareth Anscombe, 9 Tawera Kerr-Barlow, 8 Liam Messam, 7 Sam Cane, 6 Tanerau Latimer, 5 Brodie Retallick, 4 Ross Filipo, 3 Josh Hohneck, 2 Nathan Harris, 1 Pauliasi Manu.
Replacements: 16 Mahonri Schwalger, 17 Jamie Mackintosh, 18 Ben Tameifuna, 19 Matt Symons, 20 Mike Fitzgerald, 21 Brad Weber, 22 Bundee Aki, 23 Andrew Horrell.
Lions: 15 Chrysander Botha, 14 Deon van Rensburg, 13 Lionel Mapoe, 12 Stefan Watermeyer, 11 Courtnall Skosan, 10 Elton Jantjies, 9 Francois de Klerk, 8 Warren Whiteley (captain), 7 Derick Minnie, 6 Jaco Kriel, 5 Franco Mostert, 4 Martin Muller, 3 Julian Redelinghuys, 2 Robbie Coetzee, 1 Schalk van der Merwe.
Replacements: 16 Armand van der Merwe, 17 Jacques van Rooyen, 18 Ruan Dreyer, 19 Luvuyiso Lusaseni, 20 Willie Britz, 21 Ross Cronje, 22 Marnitz Boshoff, 23 Jacobus Jonker.
Referee: Chris Pollock (New Zealand)
Assistant referees: Mike Fraser (New Zealand), Mike Lash (New Zealand)
TMO: Ben Skeen (New Zealand)