One week closer to the playoffs and the only thing that became clearer over the weekend is that the Blues are the longest shot of the seven teams still in contention.
Gregor Paul writes in the Herald on Sunday that the Crusaders are in, the Waratahs will be close enough to smell the top four if they won overnight in Pretoria and the Stormers will be in great shape if they did the business in Cape Town this morning.
The Chiefs are the other contenders with their destiny in their own hands. If they can pick up five points in Johannesburg this week the gambling fraternity will be tempted to stick the big bucks on the top four, featuring the Crusaders, Stormers, Waratahs and Chiefs.
Tempted but not entirely convinced because the Sharks, Blues and Hurricanes are all still alive, making this one of the most exciting run-ins of recent years.
With viewer interest on the wane, TV bosses will be loving the fact that with two rounds left, only one team is certain of a knockout place, with six others chasing the other three berths.
Fate has also intervened on behalf of the competition organisers as the schedule has thrown up some intriguing clashes in the final round, meaning there will be six teams with everything to play for in the final round-robin fixtures.
Even at this stage, there are too many permutations to get your head around.
One of the key points to absorb is that the Hurricanes, after taking five points against the Lions, are the best placed wild card.
They face the Force this Friday in Wellington and could come to Eden Park in the final round already on 41 points.
That’s the maximum total the Blues can reach if they defeat the Highlanders in Dunedin this week scoring four tries and then do the same against the Hurricanes.
If the Blues and Hurricanes are tied on 41 points it will come down to points differential – with the men from the capital’s differential sitting at 97 compared with the Blues on 60.
But if the Hurricanes can win in Auckland they could get to 45 or 46 points and that will make them hard to oust from the mix.
The Sharks could get to 42 points if they pick up maximums against the Cheetahs and Chiefs. If they do, that would restrict the potential maximum of the Chiefs and then everything gets too hard to piece togetherTweet