Stormers in Poll position
The Stormers advanced to poll position of the Vodacom Super Rugby log for the first time and will be joined in the Finals Series by two other South African teams as the Vodacom Bulls and The Sharks also qualified for the playoffs.
This was the result following an unconvincing 26 – 21 win over the Rebels in Cape Town. The Cape franchise will now enjoy a bye next weekend while the Bulls and The Sharks will have to travel to Australasia to face the Crusaders and the Reds respectively
The Sharks played some sublime rugby in the second half against the Toyota Cheetahs. The KwaZulu-Natalians turned a 6-15 half-time deficit into a victory by 34-15. They travel to Brisbane next weekend to take on the defending champions, the Reds, in the Qualifiers
At Loftus Versfeld, the Vodacom Bulls also didn’t concede a solitary point after the break – they beat the MTN Lions by 37-20 after the scores were tied at 20-all at the break. The three-time champions from Pretoria will face the seven-time champion Crusaders in Christchurch in the other Qualifier.
The Vodacom Bulls’ qualifier will take place at 09h35 on Saturday, July 21 in Christchurch and The Sharks will play on the same day at 11h40 in Brisbane.
For the Toyota Cheetahs and the MTN Lions the season finished on a bit of a low note as they both lost their final matches of 2012.
In the Australian Conference, the Brumbies tripped over the last hurdle against the Blues (30-16) and were overtaken at the death of the league phase by the defending champions, the Reds, who topped their log after a great win over the Waratahs (32-16).
Sadly for the team from Canberra, coached by former Springbok mentor Jake White and who set the pace in Australia since the beginning of the season, they missed out on a place in the playoffs by one log point. A solitary bonus point in their defeat against the Blues would’ve been enough to put the Brumbies in the Finals Series, but it was not to be.
In New Zealand, the Chiefs were crowned champions while the Crusaders also made the Finals Series for the second successive season.
Out of the six teams that contested the Finals Series last year, four are back – the DHL Stormers, Crusaders, Reds and Sharks. The Waratahs and Blues make way for the Chiefs and Vodacom Bulls in the top six.