Super Rugby rumbles back in a battle for quarterfinal spots
Apart from the Crusaders, who are well clear of the pack, the top nine teams had better hit the deck running
You’d be forgiven if you thought it was all over. Super Rugby, that cross continental whimsically formatted behemoth that ground to a halt at the start of June, returns to a screen near you this week.
Apart from the Crusaders, who thanks largely to a run of 10 unbeaten matches are well clear of the pack, the top nine teams had better hit the deck running. It will be a mad dash for places in the playoffs with the top eight as it currently stands most likely to go through to the quarterfinals.
The Sharks can still sneak in but they will need to win their three remaining matches and hope results elsewhere go their way. No amount of voodoo will get them in. They play the Lions in Durban this weekend which is an equally pressing matter for the visiting team who will be desperate to tighten their grip at the top of their conference.A defeat in Durban for the Lions will open the door for the Jaguares, who put a poor start behind them and will go into their clash against the Stormers in Buenos Aires on the back of a six-match unbeaten run. They trail the Lions by six log points but have a game in hand. They will play the Bulls (home) and the Sharks (away) in their remaining matches.Although the Jaguares’ form on the road has been impressive coach Mario Ledesma will need to give his players a jolt following their poor display while wearing national colours against Wales and Scotland this month. Ledesma’s players, in the guise of Los Pumas, lost a two-Test series against Wales and were humiliated by an under strength Scotland side. Still, the Jaguares possess considerable bite.
In the Australian conference the Waratahs are a point clear of the Rebels but the ultimate pecking order may actually be determined as early as this week with those teams clashing in Melbourne. A win for the Rebels would seriously upend the apple cart with the Rebels then most likely to earn hosting rights in the quarter-finals. Whoever travels to Victoria may fancy their chances.
The other teams likely to make up the quarterfinal line-up are the Hurricanes, who currently have the second most log points behind the Crusaders, the Highlanders who have the third most, and the always dangerous Chiefs.