Super Rugby Champions will be decided in round 17

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    The Chiefs host the Lions in Hamilton. (AAP Image/SNPA, Ross Setford)

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    The winners of the round 17 clash between the Chiefs and Crusaders in Hamilton on Friday July 6 will also win the 2012 Super Rugby Championship.

    If the Chiefs beat the Crusaders, they will finish in both conference and overall first place on 72 points. The Crusaders will finish fourth on 67 points. If the Crusaders win, they will finish in first place for both conference and overall on 71 points. The Chiefs will finish fourth on 68 points.

    Only a New Zealand team can finish in overall first place. This is for several reasons, such as:

    1. The Stormers’ inability to score enough “four try” bonus points and hence challenge a new Zealand team for the first place on the overall competition table (they have earned just one bonus point from nine games, compared to the Chiefs three and the Crusaders five);
    2. The Australian conference winners not winning enough games to challenge a New Zealand team for that same overall first place;
    3. The massive benefit of home ground advantage that overall first place provides, particularly avoiding the mid-finals trip to South Africa;
    4. The round 17 game has an eight point impact on the relative scores of the teams.

    I assume that there will be no upset wins. The lure of the finals always concentrates the minds of the aspiring finalists as much as the thoughts of a few weeks off on a beach relaxes the minds of teams that have missed the playoffs.

    Both the Chiefs, away and Crusaders, at home, will need to defeat the Highlanders.

    If either the Chiefs or the Crusaders were to lose to the Highlanders, despite winning the round 17 clash, the Stormers would finish first in both conference and overall and become favourites to win the 2012 competition.

    If the Highlanders were to defeat both the Chiefs and Crusaders, they would finish first on 69 in conference and tied for first, overall, with the Stormers. The Stormers currently have a 41 point advantage in the for/against.

    There are other crucial games still to be played, that will determine the conference standings and minor placings overall.

    The Brumbies play the Queensland Reds and Waratahs twice. They will miss the play offs only if they lose all three games. The Brumbies successor would be decided by the Reds V Waratahs game in round 18.

    The Stormers would need to lose away to the Sharks in round 14, away to the Bulls in round 15 and lose to another team to miss winning the South African Conference.

    I predict that the Chiefs will overcome the Crusaders in round 17 due to the combination of their massive pack and brilliant backline together with home advantage for that game.

    The Chiefs will then go on to win their first Super Rugby Competition after wins over the Crusaders in the Semi Final and the Stormers in the grand final.

    The final competition table will be:

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    The Crowd Says (68)

    • May 2nd 2012 @ 5:38am
      mania said | May 2nd 2012 @ 5:38am | ! Report

      good analysis but this only takes into account no upsets

      • Roar Guru

        May 2nd 2012 @ 8:05am
        LeftArmSpinner said | May 2nd 2012 @ 8:05am | ! Report

        The reason is that as the season progresses, the better teams gel better and are more motivated by the impending finals while their opponents don’t have the same motivation, particularly those with years left on their contracts.

    • May 2nd 2012 @ 7:18am
      Bobby_JJV said | May 2nd 2012 @ 7:18am | ! Report

      Nice article. Lets hope the momentum this years super 15 has displayed so far can continue! I see you beleive that the Blues will finally string together some wins aswell, with the Rebels set to loose all but 1 or 2 for the rest of the season haha nice.

    • Roar Guru

      May 2nd 2012 @ 8:09am
      LeftArmSpinner said | May 2nd 2012 @ 8:09am | ! Report

      The blues will beat the Lion’s and the force and get another bye also. They also get two bonus points, well at least by my calculates and predictions.

      • May 2nd 2012 @ 8:19am
        Adam_JJV said | May 2nd 2012 @ 8:19am | ! Report

        So you think the Canes will beat them again this weekend?

    • May 2nd 2012 @ 8:14am
      Adam_JJV said | May 2nd 2012 @ 8:14am | ! Report

      The only thing I disagree with is, I think the Crusaders will win the comp. The signs are looking ominous and they really can only get better. With the eventual return to form of Dan Carter and the return of Richie McCaw they will be hard to topple.

      • Roar Guru

        May 2nd 2012 @ 10:43am
        LeftArmSpinner said | May 2nd 2012 @ 10:43am | ! Report

        if they win the round 17 game, they can win it. the saders didnt go so well against the Tahs in the first half. the tahs didnt let them get into stride either.

        Carter was quiet on Sunday. McCaw is a legend but wont make a great difference on the paddock.

        • May 2nd 2012 @ 11:18am
          Adam_JJV said | May 2nd 2012 @ 11:18am | ! Report

          Carter was quiet because he is still nursing his groin, which is why he still isnt kicking that much. Cant deny Tom Taylor’s form though (especially goal kicking)
          You are right, McCaw is a legend, His presence alone is enough for guys to step up to the next level.

    • May 2nd 2012 @ 8:49am
      Ben S said | May 2nd 2012 @ 8:49am | ! Report

      The Chief’s don’t have a particularly massive pack, tbh. I’d expect the Crusaders tight five to get the better of them and would wager the Crusaders back row is convincingly stronger too.

      • Columnist

        May 2nd 2012 @ 10:39am
        Brett McKay said | May 2nd 2012 @ 10:39am | ! Report

        Ben, the Chiefs do have a decent front row though, and as Paul Cully pointed out recently (pretty sure it was Paul), the Franks boys have certainly missed the drive of Brad Thorn behind them. The Crusaders back row may be stronger, but the Chiefs have shown time and again this year that if they can win the hit, they can certainly hold their own…

        • Roar Guru

          May 2nd 2012 @ 3:43pm
          jeznez said | May 2nd 2012 @ 3:43pm | ! Report

          It was Paul Cully in an excellent article for the SMH.

          The scrum battle in this round 17 game should be immense. The Chiefs definitely won that facet of play in their earlier meeting – there were certainly a few calls from the Crusaders to the ref in the game saying they didn’t think that was happening legally.

          Despite the Waratahs shading the scrum battle on Saturday the Crusaders are coming back into form in this area so an keen to watch that battle.

          Interestingly the Tahs scrum has been dominant in all the matches it has played (sometimes only slightly dominant, if that isn’t a contradiction). With the Chiefs and Crusaders being the sternest tests so far. Really looking forward to how they compete with the Brumbies, Bulls, Stormers and Cheetahs in the coming weeks.

        • May 2nd 2012 @ 9:57pm
          Ben S said | May 2nd 2012 @ 9:57pm | ! Report

          Yeah, totally. Ben Tameifuna has looked good (what a unit), and I think Elliot has shown improvements, and Taumalolo has been a great carrier, but I think technically the Crusaders should have the edge, especially as they are able to bench one of the Franks and/or Crockett.

          Funny you should mention the absence of Thorn because I recall reading an interview with Ben Franks (I think it was Ben) where he seemed pretty sore about Taumalolo’s celebrations following a series of good scrums against him. Bit of agitation there!

          • May 3rd 2012 @ 2:03am
            jeznez said | May 3rd 2012 @ 2:03am | ! Report

            Schwalger is an excellent scrummaging number 2 and Taumalolo is more than a ball carrier these days. The Tongan scrum when he came on at LHP put the hammers on the ABs during the opening game of the RWC. I’m not sure where it came from for him but his improvement in the last twelve months has been phenomenal.

            • May 3rd 2012 @ 2:09am
              Ben S said | May 3rd 2012 @ 2:09am | ! Report

              I always find it curious when people say some hookers are good scrummagers but others are not. Why do you think Schwalger is an excellent scrummager?

              • May 3rd 2012 @ 11:02am
                jeznez said | May 3rd 2012 @ 11:02am | ! Report

                Just the stability and strength of the scrum when he is on, Elliot is a superior ball runner but when Schwalger comes on the Chiefs scrum looks a little bit steadier in my opinion.

                It is hard to look at the hookers technique from a distance or on TV but quite often you can compare the scrum before and after a hooker’s substitution and form an opinion.

                The most stark example I’ve ever seen of this was early in Polota-Nau’s career he used to get subbed on for Adam Freier. In one match against the Chiefs, the Waratahs scrum went from backpedaling to taking tightheads – and he was the only substitution in either pack.

              • May 3rd 2012 @ 10:49pm
                Ben S said | May 3rd 2012 @ 10:49pm | ! Report

                Fair enough, but what about a hooker adding impact simply because he’s fresh legs coming into a tired scrum? I’m not doubting you, it just seems like a few different factors could be at play.

    • Columnist

      May 2nd 2012 @ 9:20am
      Brett McKay said | May 2nd 2012 @ 9:20am | ! Report

      Leftie, I can’t disagree with this too much, even without seeing how you’ve come to the final tallies you have. A few weeks ago I wrote that I was pretty sure that one of the Stormers, Chiefs (or ‘Chefs’ as I noticed on a fan’s sign over the weekend) or Highlanders would host the final, but over the last two rounds I’ve now subsituted the Crusaders for the Highlanders.

      Funnily enough though, in the NZ conference, I think a lot depends on the Blues, who could really become a major pain over the next couple of months. They’re too good, and too proud a team to run last, and I’m quite certain they will take points off the top teams in the last stages of the comp.

      And interesting that you’ve got such a gap between 1 and 2 in Australia. Obviously, I hope you’re right, but again, I think the last round of local derbies are going to be very hard to pick..

      • Roar Guru

        May 2nd 2012 @ 10:55am
        LeftArmSpinner said | May 2nd 2012 @ 10:55am | ! Report


        the blues could be the fly but I think that they are just having a massively bad hair day/season. their defence against the reds was appalling and their attack is nothing like previous years.

        I think the Highlanders will cause more havoc.

        the gap tween 1 and in aust is due to the three games brumbies V tahs (2) and Reds. 12 points up for grabs and that they already have a gap to the tahs and reds respectively of 31 to 26 to 25.

        • May 2nd 2012 @ 12:52pm
          Team Taniwha said | May 2nd 2012 @ 12:52pm | ! Report

          I keep thinking the Blues surely can’t keep losing, but they have much to my tipping misfortune. It is the same things that cost them, poor at kick of receipts, weakness in the inside channel when first receivers flip passes back on the inside, poor line out. If you compare the start of their game against the Sharks to the start of the reds, what progress have they made in the space of 3 weeks – nothing.

          Without Melamu and Woodcock, they alck leadesrhip up front and they don’t seem to be getting much from Lam. His choice of Braid as captain has not worked (way out of his depth) and some of his subsitutions seem odd (why Nonu was pulled so early the other night I do not know). So think Leftie is on the money in summasation!

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