Reds still don’t control their own destiny
The Queensland Reds will fall just short of the 2012 Super Rugby playoffs by my projections, despite their win over the Brumbies on the weekend.
Even with their excellent form since week 10, notching up five wins from six games, including a thumping triumph over the competition leading Chiefs, my projections are that it will not be enough to make the playoffs.
The Reds are going head to head with the Sharks for sixth place and a qualifying finals game against the Brumbies in Canberra in week one of the playoffs, with the Highlanders also seeking that remaining play-off place.
The Reds are currently in eighth place with 40 points from eight wins and four bonus points. The Sharks are currently in sixth place with 46 points from eight wins and nine bonus points. The Highlanders are in seventh place on 44 points from nine wins and four bonus points.
The Reds have a bye, the Rebels (away), Highlanders (home) and the Waratahs (home). The Sharks play the Lions (a), bye, Bulls (h), Cheetahs (h). The Highlanders play the Crusaders (a), Chiefs(h), Reds (a) and finish with a bye.
The Highlanders will be banished from the playoffs by the Crusaders in Christchurch in the coming round. If the Sharks defeat the Lions and Cheetahs with a bonus point and lose to the Bulls by seven points or less, they will finish on 61 points.
The Reds are capable of winning all of their remaining games with a four try bonus point, amassing 59 points in the process.
With the wild card place out of their control, can the Reds get an automatic playoffs place by winning the Australian conference?
The Brumbies meet the three of the four lowest ranked teams in the Rebels (a), Force (a), Waratahs (a), Blues (h).
I predict that the Brumbies will win all of these games with three bonus points (Force, Rebels and Blues), resulting in 64 competition points, a buffer of five points over the Reds. Third place on merit and a Friday evening qualifying finals game in Canberra against the recently arrived Sharks.
If it were come down to points difference, the Brumbies have 64 points difference, the Sharks 57 and the Reds -25.
As the finals draw closer, the upsets of the first eight weeks of the season disappear as the aspirants’ motivation rises and the also-rans motivation wanes.
It is disappointing that the Reds are most unlikely to make the playoffs. The Reds v Brumbies game last Saturday evening was a wonderful game of rugby between two sharp, well coached teams.
The damage to the Reds season was not done by the injury toll. Every team has had their injuries. The damage was done in the early weeks of the season when the Reds left a four try bonus point on the table against the Rebels at home (11-6), the trashing of their points differential by the 61 point blow-out against the Bulls and missing the win or at least two bonus points in the thrashing by the Force in round six (45-19).
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