Scintillating Super Rugby Weekend Ahead
Heading into a scintillating final round of league action, eight Super Rugby franchises could possibly book themselves a slot in the Vodacom Super Rugby Finals Series, with only the DHL Stormers and the Chiefs – guaranteed of their positions.
These two sides have already won the South African and New Zealand Conferences and depending on this weekend’s results, will contest the first two positions on the log. If the Chiefs (63 log points) can get a full house of five points from their match against the Hurricanes in Wellington on Friday morning, they will top the Combined Log.
The DHL Stormers (62) need a solitary log point against the Rebels at DHL Newlands on Saturday to secure second position on the Combined Log, but they can move into first spot if they get one point more than the what the Chiefs get on Friday, since the Capetonians have won more games.
One point will also ensure the Brumbies (58) win the Australian Conference and secure a spot in the playoffs. However, if they get a full house against the Blues and the DHL Stormers fail to get a single point against the Rebels, the team from Canberra can still slip into the top two. If the Brumbies lose and get zero on Saturday morning and the Reds get five against the Waratahs in Brisbane, the defending champions can still win the Aussie Conference.
The Crusaders (56) can’t finish higher than fourth and need at least three points against the Force in Christchurch to secure their spot in the playoffs. The Vodacom Bulls (54) will feature in the Finals Series if they can get five points against the MTN Lions in Pretoria. The Sharks (54) also need five points against the Toyota Cheetahs in Durban to secure their spot in the playoffs. If both the Vodacom Bulls and The Sharks manage five log points from their final league fixture, the team with the best point’s difference will finish higher on the log.
The two teams currently outside the top six that can still sneak in are the Reds and the Hurricanes (both on 53).
The Reds need to win and if they catch the Vodacom Bulls or The Sharks on the log, the Queenslanders will advance as they have won more games. But they will remain in seventh position on the log if both these South African teams win with bonus points – it could be an agonising wait for the team from Brisbane.
A similar scenario applies for the Hurricanes – they would hope that at least two of the teams ahead of them slip up and then they also need to give the Chiefs a hiding at the Cake Tin, as they are worse off than all the teams ahead of them when it comes to point’s difference.
Unfortunately for the Toyota Cheetahs and the MTN Lions nothing more than pride is at stake when they visit Durban and Pretoria this weekend. The Toyota Cheetahs can’t finish higher than their current 10th position on the log, but the Waratahs can still overtake them. The MTN Lions are in 15th spot on the log and can overtake the Force and the Blues if they upset the Vodacom Bulls at Loftus and some other results go in their favour.