Kiwis get stuck into Super Rugby format

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    The much maligned format for the Super Rugby finals series is coming in for more criticism, especially from New Zealanders, now that the protagonists have been settled.

    The Brumbies will host a quarter-final next Friday against the Hurricanes, despite winning only half as many games as the defending champions and accumulating 24 less points.

    “Super Rugby is idiots-ville,” the New Zealand Herald fumed.

    “The champion Hurricanes have been treated with awful disrespect by the Super Rugby system.”

    One of New Zealand’s other quarter-finalists, the Chiefs, have to face the Stormers in Cape Town, despite tallying two more wins and 14 more points.

    The Brumbies and Stormers earned a home game by finishing top of their respective conferences, while the Hurricanes and Chiefs finished second and third in New Zealand.

    South Africa’s Lions, last year’s losing finalists, will conceivably enjoy home advantage throughout the playoffs, despite the fact their 14-1 season record was achieved without playing a single Kiwi team.

    They won’t face New Zealand opposition in the first week of the finals either, hosting compatriots the Sharks, who they defeated 27-10 in Durban in the final round.

    The Crusaders, who were unbeaten until a last round 31-22 away loss to the Hurricanes, also finished 14-1, but logged two less bonus points than the Lions.

    In the pick of the the quarter-finals, seven time champions the Crusaders host the Highlanders, who have gone 10-1 since a 1-3 start to the season.

    The Brumbies, Australia’s lone Super final representatives, finished their regular season campaign with successive losses after a vastly understrength side lost 28-10 to the Chiefs in Hamilton.

    However, the Canberra-based side will regain a stack of stars rested from the game.

    Among them are co-captain and lock Sam Carter and fellow Wallabies forwards Scott Sio, Allan Alaalatoa and Rory Arnold and Test backs Joe Powell and Tevita Kuridrani.

    The Hurricanes thrashed the Brumbies 56-21 earlier in the season.

    The Brumbies will endeavour to end a 31-match losing streak by Australian teams against New Zealand opposition, stretching almost 14 months.

    Also in the last round, Queensland Reds crashed 40-17 to the Highlanders in Dunedin.

    There was mixed fortunes for the two Australian teams in danger of being axed from the competition.

    Western Force secured second place in the Australian conference, pummelling the NSW Waratahs 40-11 in Perth

    Melbourne Rebels lost 32-29 at home to Argentina’s Jaguares despite 22 points from Reece Hodge and leading 16-3 in the first half.

    Japan’s Sunwolves upset the Blues 48-21 in Tokyo to snap an eight-match losing skid.

    The Stormers beat the Bulls 41-33 in Pretoria and the Cheetahs shaded the Kings 21-20 in Port Elizabeth in the battle between the two South African sides being culled from the competition.

    © AAP 2017

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