The Vodacom Stormers are favourites to make the semi-finals as the 2010 Vodacom Super 14 enters one of its most exciting final rounds of league competition as six teams are set to battle it out for three playoff places. The Vodacom Bulls have already qualified and will host one of the two playoff games.
The Cape franchise are currently on 39 log points while the other semifinal contenders – Waratahs (38), Brumbies (37), Hurricanes (37), Crusaders (36) and the Reds (34) are all still in the hunt of making this season’s final-four.
All the Vodacom Stormers need to do is defeat the Vodacom Bulls at Newlands on Saturday (17h05) to secure a home semifinal in round 14 of the 2010 Vodacom Super 14.
If the Vodacom Stormers lose and fail to gain any bonus points, they could still qualify for the semis if the Hurricanes manage to defeat the Waratahs and make sure that the Sydney franchise doesn’t get two bonus points.
In that case the Vodacom Bulls, Vodacom Stormers, Hurricanes and one of the Crusaders or the Brumbies, who play each other on Friday at 09h35 (RSA time), will progress to the final-four playoff matches.
The Vodacom Stormers can lose out on a place in the semi-finals if they lose to the Vodacom Bulls without securing a bonus point, the Hurricanes beat the Waratahs and the Sydney franchise manages to achieve two bonus points. If the Hurricanes and Waratahs plays out to a draw in Sydney on Friday at 11h40 (RSA time), the Vodacom Stormers will also be out.
However the Cape franchise should not expect any favours from their traditional northern rivals at Newlands as the defending champions will be aiming to once again rewrite the Super Rugby record books on Saturday.
The last time the Vodacom Stormers defeated the Vodacom Bulls was in Cape Town in 2004. Since then it has been one way traffic for the Pretoria outfit, who notched up five consecutive victories over their traditional rivals from the south in Super Rugby. Their 75-14 win over the Vodacom Stormers still stands out as their biggest triumph over the Cape side.
The defending champions have crossed the Vodacom Stormers’ try line on 21 occasions during those last five years. Interestingly the last Vodacom Bulls player to score a try against the Cape side at Newlands was winger Bryan Habana in 2008, who will face his old mates for the first time after moving to Cape Town at the end of the 2009 season.
The Vodacom Bulls are also only 10 points away from breaking their own record of points scored in a Super Rugby competition. They scored 435 from 15 matches in 2007 and are currently on 426 points after 12 games in the 2010 Vodacom Super.The defending champions are also three tries away from breaking their own record (48) of five-pointers scored in a season. They have scored 46 tries in this year’s competition.
An 11th victory of the season for the Vodacom Bulls at Newlands will set a new SA record for most wins in a Super Rugby season. The defending champions (2009, 2010) and the Sharks (2007) won 10 of their games respectively.