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FEATURED

Two rounds to the Super Rugby Finals Series – permutations for 2012 Super Rugby

PUBLISHED: July 5, 2012



Super Rugby made a welcome return last weekend, with Round 16 serving up six local Conference derbies, and in terms of the final standings, the top-of-the-table Chiefs became the first franchise to secure a Finals Series position.

The Chiefs 27-21 victory over the Highlanders at Forsyth Barr Stadium was notable for three reasons, primarily securing their place in the Super Rugby Finals Series.

It also secures the Chiefs position as New Zealand Conference winner, with their 62 competition points ten clear of the second placed Crusaders on 52. A superior winning record of 12 wins versus the seven-time champion’s 9 wins means that if the sides are tied at the end of the regular season the Chiefs will lift the local crown.

The Chiefs 12 wins also marks a new regular season record for a New Zealand team, surpassing the Crusaders 11 win mark notched in 2002, 2006, 2008 and 2011 (in 2002 the Crusaders went onto win Super 12 unbeaten, the only perfect season in the history of the competition).

The all-time regular season winning record was claimed by the Reds last season, winning 13 regular season fixtures.

The South African Conference leading Stormers kept their flawless record in 2012 at DHL Newlands intact, winning their seventh match at home this season with a 27-17 win over the Lions.

The Stormers 58 competition points ensures they are second on the table overall, but the Bulls are breathing down their necks, with the three-time champions beating the Cheetahs 40-24 to make it a perfect weekend for the South African hosting teams.

The Sharks, who took a round 16 bye along with the Blues and Waratahs, resume action this weekend, hosting the Bulls in Durban in what is a winner takes all clash, with a place in the Super Rugby Finals Series the reward.

With the Bulls and Sharks hosting the Cheetahs and Lions respectively in their final regular match of the season, the battle in the Shark Tank between the two teams this weekend will be pivotal in the battle for the South African Conference trophy.

The Lions and Cheetahs could cause chaos however, for if Free State win, then the Stormers could be overtaken by the Bulls or Sharks in the next fortnight.

While the Sharks have two home games remaining, a loss in either will effectively knock them out of contention, but win both and they will qualify.

The Bulls 54 competition points give them the fourth wildcard position overall.

The defending champion Reds title defence is still alive after crashing Stirling Mortlock’s final game at AAMI Park, with the Rebels going down 32-17.

It means that the Queenslanders sit seventh overall on 49 competition points, keeping heat on the Australian Conference leading Brumbies, on 54 points.

The Brumbies made it back-to-back wins for the away teams in the Australian Conference, ruining another departing stalwart’s farewell party as Nathan Sharpe played his last game in front of his adoring Perth crowd, as the Force lost 28-17.

The other end of the Australian Conference is still alive and well, with the third placed Waratahs (34), Rebels (29) and Force (27) in an intriguing fight for overall log position.

The one-point win for the Hurricanes v Crusaders moved the men from the capital to the sixth wildcard position with two rounds to play, one below their conquered opponents. They also remain the top try scoring team with 55 tries scored to date.

With the bye this week, the Hurricanes have their destiny in their own hands, and can qualify for the Super Rugby Finals Series if they beat the Chiefs.

If this occurs and the Sharks, Crusaders or Reds lose just one match, then the men from the capital will celebrate a fairy-tale appearance in the top six.

The Highlanders are still mathematically in calculations, but the ninth placed team would need the Sharks, Reds, Hurricanes and Crusaders to drop their remaining matches.

The Blues, like the Lions, have been confirmed as the fifth placed finishers regardless of final regular season results for their respective Conferences.

THE RUN HOME FOR 2012 SUPER RUGBY

 

Round’s 17 and 18

Chiefs (62)

 

Crusaders (h), Hurricanes (a)

BEST FINISH: 1st

WORST FINISH: 6th

Stormers (58)

 

Cheetahs (a), Rebels (h)

BEST FINISH: 1st

WORST FINISH: 8th

Brumbies (54)

 

Waratahs (a), Blues (h)

BEST FINISH: 1st

WORST FINISH: 9th

Bulls (54)

 

Sharks (a), Lions (h)

BEST FINISH: 1st

WORST FINISH: 9th

Crusaders (52)

 

Chiefs (a), Force (h)

BEST FINISH: 4th

WORST FINISH: 9th

Hurricanes (49)

 

Bye, Chiefs (h)

BEST FINISH: 4th

WORST FINISH: 8th

Reds (49)

 

Highlanders (h), Waratahs (h)

BEST FINISH: 2nd

WORST FINISH: 9th

Sharks (49)

 

Bulls (h), Cheetahs (h)

BEST FINISH: 2nd

WORST FINISH: 9th