After a week or so of utter negativity, it’s time to pick ourselves up, dust ourselves off and get fully behind out team as they make a push for the Super 14 title. A number of fortunate results see the Sharks still in fourth position after the bye round and of those in contention, we are the only side who has completed all of our away fixtures.
The Hurricanes, Bulls and Chiefs have emerged as the major contenders, along with the Sharks and each still has their destiny completely in their own hands. For the Sharks, the way is clear… pick up maximum points from each of the three remaining games and should any of the front three slip up, their place will be up for grabs. With the Bulls just two points ahead of us, our final round-robin game in Durban against the men in blue will, assuming we don’t lose a game before then, enable us to leap-frog them and may well be the difference between a home semi final and having to travel.
Now, the Hurricanes seem to have the toughest run-in of them all. They have only one more home game, this weekend against the Blues (themselves reeling after losing to the Reds). What follows is an away derby against the Chiefs, who themselves will have a home semi in their sights should they take out the men from Wellington. They finish with a trip to Brisbane to face the unpredictable Reds, who have already shown that they can beat better teams any given weekend. If the Canes drop even one of these matches, they could lose out on top spot. Lose two and they’re suddenly in serious danger of missing out altogether.
The Chiefs don’t have a significantly easier path. They still have an away game against the crap Stormers, but then the Canes lie in wait for them at home. They finish off with a home game against the Brumbies, which they should win. The Bulls still have the Force and Cheetahs at home, before travelling to Durban.
So on the face of it, then, the Sharks have the easiest path from here, followed by the Bulls, Chiefs and Canes in that order. Best case for us is for the Blues to beat the Canes, the Canes to beat the Chiefs and for us to (obviously) give the Bulls a carrot. Obviously a Stormers victory over the Chiefs or a shock Reds win over the Canes would suit us down to the ground. If each of the other contenders just drops one more match and we win our three then, assuming bonus points don’t come into it (which of course they will!) we can still end first.
It all starts with five points (yes Sharks – five) against the Highlanders. Assuming that the Bulls beat the Force, the Stormers hold the Chiefs to a non-bonus point win (dreaming?) and the Canes manage to tough it out against the Blues, again with no bonus point, the top four could look like this:
1 Canes 38
2 Bulls 38
3 Chiefs 37
4 Sharks 36
Two points shy of top spot with two home games to come? Bring it on.
Black and white… nothing else matters!Tweet