Six teams, including the Stormers and the Sharks, will battle it out this week for the remaining three semi-final places in the Super 14 rugby competition
Stephen Nell writes in Die Burger that the others are the Hurricanes, the Waratahs, the Blues and the Chiefs. The Crusaders have already ensured that their semi-final will be played in Christchurch.
The Stormers, despite their 13-all draw against the Waratahs, can still qualify for a home semi-final – but only if the Hurricanes lose to the Blues in Auckland on Friday.
The Hurricanes, who beat the Western Force at the weekend, are second on the points table, three clear of the Stormers, who have 37 points.
The Blues are also still in the running after their fine 40-15 win over the Highlanders.
The Waratahs, who play the Reds in Brisbane on Saturday, are in third place on 39 points. They may seem markedly stronger than the Queenslanders are but no Australian derby is more intense than this one.
Playing the Reds away, is not an ideal way to finish the campaign.
The Sharks are also on 37 log points, with a points difference only nine below that of the Cape side. Therefore, both South African teams can still secure a home semi-final.
The Stormers face the Lions at Ellis Park on Saturday and the Sharks take on the Chiefs in Durban.
The Chiefs, even after losing 27-33 to the Lions, have a chance of slipping into the semi-finals through the back door. The New Zealanders are seventh on the log, with a total of 34 points.
The Lions have left the Stormers with no illusions about this week’s match in Johannesburg.
Stormers coach Rassie Erasmus was not surprised by the score.
“The Lions’ strength is at breakdown points and that of the Chiefs is to attack from turnover possession,” Erasmus said at the weekend.
“Because the Lions were so good at breakdown points, the Chiefs did not have much possession. We predicted that result.
“We have a big challenge ahead, judging by the way the Lions played against the Chiefs.”
The battle between the Sharks and the Chiefs could be interesting, Erasmus added.
Erasmus was not despondent after the draw against the Waratahs. “We’re in fourth place and we can still determine our own destiny,” he said.
“If we win our next match – which we know will be tough – and we retain our advantage in terms of points difference, we will remain in fourth place.
“For our first year as a squad this is not bad. There are still a number of permutations but until now it has been a relatively successful season,” Erasmus said.Tweet