And then there were seven! Yes, the race for Super 14 play-off places has officially been reduced to just seven teams.
Round 13 indeed provided us with Super Rugby’s version of musical chairs.
The Bulls went from third to first, through some Bryan Habana magic. They now need just one point – a point of any description – from their match against the Sharks to secure a top four spot. But to get home ground advantage in the play-offs they need to beat the Sharks … with a bonus point.
The Hurricanes went from first to third, as the Chiefs cemented their place in the top two by beating their compatriots in a rain-soaked Hamilton. It is going to get very interesting, as the Chiefs face the Brumbies in the final leg and the latter have a shot at the play-offs.
The Hurricanes travel to Brisbane to face the lowly Reds – you have to bank on the ‘Canes getting five points there.
The dark horse appears to be the defending champion Crusaders, who – after a very ordinary start to the season that included three defeats and a draw in their first five matches – now have some genuine momentum. They do need some results to go their way and face the Blues in Auckland in the last weekend, but they can still even still finish top of the standings with a big enough win.
The Brumbies (5th place) and Sharks (6th) have to overcome teams in the top four – the Brumbies up against the Chiefs and the Sharks meeting the Bulls.
The seventh-placed Waratahs face the Lions in their last league match and need a number of results to go their way, but could even finish second. However, they will need to show a willingness to discard their defensive-minded game and play for a four-try bonus point.
Those who fell out of the race in the penultimate round of league matches are the Blues and the Western Force – as they joined the Highlanders, Lions, Stormers, Reds and Cheetahs in the ‘playing for pride’ stakes.
Needless to say, in the final round several teams are going to knock each out of the race and – once again – it will go down to the wire.
In fact it will certainly come down to the very last league match of the season, when the Sharks host the Bulls in Durban on Saturday, May 16, to sort out the final places.
Courtesy of Jan De Koning of Rugby 365Tweet