Super Rugby: The road to the finals and beyond

robbo999 Roar Rookie

By robbo999, robbo999 is a Roar Rookie

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    I have no doubt that Brett’s regular Tuesday column will continue his excellent The Run Home series where he will attempt to predict who will and will not make the finals.

    Not having the patience to wait for his predictions and given my urgent need to convince myself that the Rebels are going to make it, I have spent a fair part of the weekend unleashing my inner Nostradamus.

    I’m seeking to fearlessly predict not just who will make the finals but the order of finish and ultimately, the final outcome.

    While the final winner will be no surprise, some of the outcomes along the way should make this the most interesting Super Rugby season ending for some years.

    As I am predicting that some of the final points tallies will be very close in the middle of the Eight it is important to understand the tie-break rules in the event of a tie.

    There are five criteria in ascending order:
    1. Most wins from all matches
    2. Highest aggregate points difference from all matches
    3. Most tries from all matches
    4. Highest aggregate difference of total tries for versus tries scored against from all matches, and finally
    5. Coin toss.

    If you think that the use of some of the higher criteria is unlikely, consider that today the Bulls and the Stormers occupy 11th and 12th place respectively with five wins each and an aggregate points difference of -44 each with Bulls on 11th only through having a better aggregate try difference.

    As of today only ten teams remain with a mathematical chance of making the Quarter Finals with the Bulls, Stormers Blues, Reds and Sunwolves holding the 11th to 15th places in that order with no mathematical chance of catching the current eighth place holder the Rebels.

    The current standings of the remaining top ten are summarised below showing total points and wins (not even I am going to try to predict final aggregate points or try differences). The table also shows the run home for each team (a + means a home game).

    As of Round 17

    Rank Team Played Wins Points Rd 18 Rd 19
    1 CRU 14 12 54 HIG BLU+
    2 LIO 15 8 41 BYE BUL+
    3 WAT 14 8 39 SUN+ BRU+
    4. HUR 14 10 45 BLU+ CHI
    5 CHI 14 9 41 BRU+ HUR+
    6 HIG 14 9 40 CRU+ REB+
    7 JAG 14 9 38 BUL SHA
    8 REB 14 7 35 RED HIG
    9 SHA 14 6 32 STO JAG
    10 BRU 14 6 29 CHI WAT

    With the exception of the Crusaders and Hurricanes, the difference between second and seventh is only three points. Also note that the Lions have only one game left. The Rebels bonus points are keeping them in the game.

    Cruelling the chance of a major boil over from the bottom up is the draw, with none of the bottom four having a home game (but watch the Jags).

    If the QFs were to be played next week they would be:
    QF1 Crusaders vs Rebels
    QF2 Hurricanes v Chiefs
    QF3 Lions v Jaguares
    QF4 Waratahs v Highlanders

    For what it’s worth I think that would result in the semi-finals being Crusaders vs Chiefs (based on last weekend’s form) and Waratahs vs Jaguares with a Crusaders vs Jaguares final.

    The Crusaders are the only team I would be confident in tipping against the Jaguars at the moment, so they win.

    So now for my promised fearless predictions.
    1. Crusaders: no problems, two wins with a BP against the Blues for nine points.
    2. Lions: shot themselves in the foot on the weekend, should beat the Bulls but no BP for four points.
    3. Waratahs: (through clenched teeth) should get two wins but a BP will be hard to get as while the Sunwolves leak a lot of points they never lie down and score many themselves, eight points.
    4. Hurricanes: will get one win against the Blues with a BP but will struggle against the Chiefs in Hamilton, losing by less than seven for a BP, six points.
    5. Chiefs: they looked very good in Fiji and should get two wins at home but will struggle to a BP out of two fired up teams.
    6. Highlanders: they have a sniff at a losing BP in Christchurch but the Rebels will deny them a try BP, one win and five points.
    7. Jaguares: the team on the move and they have no problem playing SA this year. Not big BP winners to date so two wins and eight points only.
    8. Rebels: should get a BP win at Suncorp (because they must) but try as might I can’t see them beating the Highlanders at FBS, one win and six points.
    9. Sharks: did themselves a big favour on the weekend and momentum should see them beat the Stormers but the Jags will take them down, one win and four points.
    10. Brumbies: part of me wants them to win both games but most of me believes it will be close but no cigar, no wins and two BPs.

    I expect there to be strong objections to some of these predictions from many quarters but, these are my fearless predictions and I am sticking with them โ€“ note my scrupulous lack of bias in not picking the Rebels to beat the Highlanders โ€“ and they result in the following final outcome to the regular season.

    Rank Team Played Wins Points
    1 CRU 16 14 63
    2 WAT 16 10 47
    3 JAG 16 11 46
    4 HUR 16 11 51
    5 CHI 16 11 49
    6 HIG 16 10 45
    7 LIO 16 9 45
    8 REB 16 8 41
    9 SHA 16 7 36
    10 BRU 16 6 31

    For completeness I am predicting that none of the Bulls, Stormers, Blues or Reds will win another game and their current positions and points will remain unchanged.

    The Sunwolves will beat the Reds to move equal to the Reds on four wins and 19 points each.

    Current points and try aggregates strongly favour the Reds so I will award the Wooden Spoon to the Mighty Moondogs.

    Positions 1, 4, 5, 6 and 8 are unchanged from Round 17 and the big winners are the Tahs and the Jags. The Lions are left to rue dropping the ball last Saturday.

    Yes, the system has thoroughly screwed the Hurricanes yet again and the Chiefs can feel a little bit screwed, but the outcomes are a lot closer between the conferences than the last two years.

    While the eight is pretty firm in my view, the final positions from 2 to 7 (bar fourth) are very vulnerable to minor changes to my predictions. For example, if the Jags pick up a BP they move to P2 based on games won. It will be a nail-biting finish for all teams.

    The finals
    From the SANZAAR website, the quarterfinals will be drawn as follows: QF1 1 v 8; QF2 4 v 5; QF3 2 v 7; and QF4 3 v 6. The winner of QF1 plays QF2 in SF1 and you can figure out the rest.

    Hence
    QF1 Crusaders vs Rebels
    QF2 Hurricanes vs Chiefs
    QF3 Waratahs vs Lions
    QF4 Jaguares vs Highlanders

    My heart says the Rebels are going to rip the Crusaders a new one and go on to win the championship taking all before them.

    Sigh, back to reality. I am going for home advantage in all games. This reverses my picking the Chiefs over the Canes the week before, but home advantage will count for a lot.

    So the semi-finals will be
    SF1 Crusaders v Hurricanes and
    SF2 Waratahs v Jaugares

    See how unbiased I am in giving the Tahs two home finals?

    Both of these games are tough to call but I have to give SF1 to the Crusaders. They don’t lose many home games and even fewer home finals.

    I have been very impressed by the Jags since they beat the Rebels and went on to complete a four-zip Australasian tour, which was as good a performance as I’ve seen in Super Rugby. They have then gone from strength to strength.

    They seem to just play enough to win, so no big bonus point-winning thrashings โ€“ just strong defence and an ability to take the half chances when they come up.

    The Tahs will be tough to beat at home but something in my water says that the Jags will take this. Sorry Tahs fans.

    So, a grand final between the Crusaders and the Jaguares.

    How do I get to listen to the Argentine commentary?.

    The Crusaders to win back-to-back and their ninth title overall. Given their dominance throughout the season, richly deserved. The Rebels will take it next year

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    The Crowd Says (18)

    • July 4th 2018 @ 11:19am
      Old Bugger said | July 4th 2018 @ 11:19am | ! Report

      robbo

      Honestly, I’m not too concerned about who wins SR this year simply because, I’m going to hang my hat on a round-robin system next year. As your tabled results show, it has to be the most dog-legged competition ever when 2 teams register less points than 2 other sides and yet, they secure home finals matches, as a result.

      So, the quicker this silly version of a competition is done and dusted then the sooner, we on the sidelines get to witness a competition that measures all teams against each other and a table that reflects the success or failure of each side, after they’ve played every other side, in the competition.

      Yes I know, it’s been repeatedly stated before on numerous occasions but, how can a grand final not eventuate, between the top two points finishing sides in a competition?? Simples…..arrange the competition like this current format and then watch those two successful sides, belt the heck out of other in the semi-final and if it isn’t the top 2 sides, then it will be a semi-final where No1 meets No3, on the points table.

      Either way, its a cop-out IMO……

      • July 4th 2018 @ 12:45pm
        robbo999 said | July 4th 2018 @ 12:45pm | ! Report

        OB I understand how you feel but do not really agree with you. Firstly, I do care who wins this year. I’m a Rebels fan and I want them to win. It is not going to happen but at least this year we are in the fight, as are a number of other teams. The issues you complain about, and I acknowledge in my article, only really matter when there is a major imbalance in class between the conferences. I think this year has shown that the gaps are closing for both the Australian and SA conferences and I believe they will continue to close over the next few years. Whatever went wrong is the past is, well, in the past. Let’s move on.

        I for one have enjoyed this year’s competition and look forward to the next six weeks to the final with much anticipation – whatever befalls the Rebels.

        I would not be hanging out for a fully round-robin tournament next year – SANZAAR have already issued the draw with the three conferences intact. The current TV deal goes to the end of 2020 and I don’t believe there will be any further change unit 2021. Apparently SANZAAR are meeting in Singapore tomorrow and one of the major agenda items for the next broadcast deal is the structure of the tournament. It’s clear that NZ wants a full home and away round-robin (Keiran Reid was not going rogue with his comments earlier this week) so you may get your wish. I will accept this so long as there are16 teams and hence no byes and no imbalanced home and away schedules (although they would have to have a few split-rounds to manage player welfare). Cheers.

        • July 4th 2018 @ 2:28pm
          Old Bugger said | July 4th 2018 @ 2:28pm | ! Report

          Just a couple of points robbo….

          SANZAAR is investigating a couple of options to kick in next year to retain the conferences but make the teams play a round robin and/or, introduce a 16th team from the Pacific Islands. These considerations are to provide time for the PI side to bed-down before the next TV rights negotiations are finalised in 2020 to start 2021. Alternatively, just introduce a round-robin but the issue then becomes is it 15 sides with a bye or, 16 sides with no bye. I’d prefer 16 teams with a PI side introduced.

          Also, if the improvements shown by the other conferences of late continue to get better as you suggest, then the arguments for a round-robin IMO, will increase with the improved performances from the other conference teams.

          The key to all these matters of course is the fact that SR will play a full uninterrupted competition from Feb to end June and a 16 team round-robin apparently, fits in quite comfortably.

          • July 4th 2018 @ 2:45pm
            robbo999 said | July 4th 2018 @ 2:45pm | ! Report

            Yes OB and uninterrupted season next year will be very welcome.

            I’ll have to take your word for it re possible changes for next year as I have heard nothing about that. If they do make changes they will have 15 very teed-off Team Managers to answer to who, i am certain, will be locking in venues, accommodation and flights for next year as we speak. The late change of the Sunwolves v Rebels game from Singapore to Tokyo in Round 3 this year caused a fair amount of grief in Rebels land with a few people having already locked non-changeable. non-refundable travel arrangements before it was announced.

            No doubt we shall be informed when the powers that be deem it appropriate.

          • July 5th 2018 @ 8:27am
            P2R2 said | July 5th 2018 @ 8:27am | ! Report

            the sooner they DITCH to CONFERENCE system the better the SR will be….it has to be on MERIT…the best of all teams make the finals…not just because 2 other teams are conference leaders….

        • July 5th 2018 @ 8:26am
          P2R2 said | July 5th 2018 @ 8:26am | ! Report

          and they WONT WIN next year Robbo – sorry

        • July 5th 2018 @ 10:44am
          Pinetree said | July 5th 2018 @ 10:44am | ! Report

          robbo999 – Firstly, I think you have done a great job with the predictions, and all the best for your Rebels in the next 2 weeks. I think the away game to the Reds could be a banana skin game for the Rebels potentially, but the Rebels should win it.

          I would like to push back a little on your point on the closing of the conferences to be more competitive to kiwi teams. The last 2 years only had 6 games within the conference, and this year it is back to 8 games within the conference, like the change 2011. This means that more points can potentially be taken from a weak conference, and the stronger conferences take more points off each other.

          Below is a breakdown of wins/draws/losses and total points gained within the conferences and outside the conferences. I think you will find that this years system has allowed the Tahs and Rebels to gain a lot of points within their conference, and have received very little facing teams outside their conference. You will see the effect this system has also had on the NZ teams.

          Within Conference

          Waratahs 6-0-0 26
          Rebels 5-0-2 25
          Lions 5-0-2 24
          Jaguares 4-0-2 18
          Highlanders 4-0-3 18
          Crusaders 4-0-2 17
          Hurricanes 4-0-2 17
          Chiefs 4-0-3 16
          Brumbies 3-0-4 16
          Bulls 3-0-3 13
          Sharks 2-0-4 10
          Stormers 2-0-5 10
          Sunwolves 1-0-5 5
          Reds 1-0-5 4
          Blues 0-0-6 3

          Outside conference

          Crusaders 8-0-0 37
          Hurricanes 6-0-2 28
          Chiefs 5-0-2 25
          Highlanders 5-0-2 22
          Sharks 4-1-3 22
          Jaguares 5-0-3 20
          Blues 4-0-4 19
          Lions 3-0-5 17
          Stormers 3-0-5 15
          Reds 3-0-5 15
          Brumbies 3-0-4 13
          Waratahs 2-1-5 13
          Bulls 2-0-6 12
          Rebels 2-0-5 10
          Sunwolves 2-0-6 9

          • July 5th 2018 @ 3:29pm
            robbo999 said | July 5th 2018 @ 3:29pm | ! Report

            Thanks Pinetree. I was aware of this potential favourable weighting and while I did not do the analysis that you have done I was aware that in 2017 all five Australian teams won only 21 games in total and from memory very few of these were from outside the conference (and at least four of them were against the Sunwolves). This year the five conference teams, including the Sunwolves, have have won 12 games from outside the conference. This has got to be an improvement.

            If you take your figures and use my predictions above then the wins from inside the home conference will be:

            NZ – CRU 6, HUR and CHI 5 each, HIG 4 and BLU 0

            AUS – WAT 8, REB 6, BRU 3, RED 1 and SUN 2

            SA – LIO 6, JAG 6, BUL and SHA 3 each and STO 2

            From this only the Waratahs are gaining significant advantage from inside their conference. You could say that the top 4 NZ teams are getting a leg up from the Blues being such a whipping boy.

            You can make numbers say anything of course, but do believe that there has been significant improvement in performance by the AUS and SA conference team this year. The reason the NZ teams still dominate is that they do manage to win outside their conference on a regular basis. There has been some turn around by the others this year, but this remains their big challenge for next year. Cheers

            • July 5th 2018 @ 5:03pm
              Pinetree said | July 5th 2018 @ 5:03pm | ! Report

              Robbo – I do agree that the Aus teams are better this year, but my point is that the improvent may be exaggerated from the change in system this year.

              “You could say that the top 4 NZ teams are getting a leg up from the Blues being such a whipping boy.”

              You could also say that the Blues are 7th on points outside of their conference, and have beaten three out of four Aus teams, including the Tahs, The Tahs and Rebels are 12th and 14th on points outside their conference. It may be that if the Blues were in the Aus conference, that they would top that conference.

              The Rebels on your prediction, would end up with 30 points within the conference, and 11 points outside their conference, so I would call that a significant boost of points within the conference.

              Aus rugby has improved, but I would be reluctant to call it close to a significant improvement. Hopefully Aus keeps moving in the right direction!

            • July 5th 2018 @ 6:43pm
              Pinetree said | July 5th 2018 @ 6:43pm | ! Report

              Robbo – I did look back at the 2017 season, and I forgot how few games they won outside their conference. It was 5 wins, but the Aus teams did not play the Sunwolves, as Aus teams played the SA 2 conference, and the Sunwolves were in the SA 1 conference.

              I don’t think it is fair to add the 2 wins from the Sunwolves this year, so Aus teams have won 10 games so far this year outside their conference. It is fair for me acknowledge that there are 32 games involving Aus teams this year outside the conference, so Aus have won 10 out of 30 games this year so far, and last year there were 45 games involving Aus teams and only 5 won outside of their conference, which does support your argument on improvement.

    • Roar Guru

      July 4th 2018 @ 2:59pm
      Machooka said | July 4th 2018 @ 2:59pm | ! Report

      When I usually ‘release my inner Nostradamus.’ the dog kindly cleans it up! ๐Ÿ˜‰

      Thanks for the read robbo999… and bring on the climax to this year’s SR whichever which ways it goes.

      Or if your an old bugger wait for next season… ๐Ÿ™‚

      • July 4th 2018 @ 4:04pm
        robbo999 said | July 4th 2018 @ 4:04pm | ! Report

        Thanks Machooka – unfortunately the last of my old dogs went to his maker about 15 months ago (although at 17, I suspect he was not unhappy to go) – so I have to clean up my own mess. Looking forward to Friday night when my “fearless predictions” may unravel – and every cranky Reds supporter on this site proclaims BT as the Messiah.

    • Roar Guru

      July 4th 2018 @ 4:15pm
      Machooka said | July 4th 2018 @ 4:15pm | ! Report

      Bless robbo… my old mate passed around the same time although he wasn’t keen to go.

      Hey, I know a cranky, belligerent REDs supporter who simply can’t stand BT… ๐Ÿ™‚

    • Columnist

      July 4th 2018 @ 4:28pm
      Geoff Parkes said | July 4th 2018 @ 4:28pm | ! Report

      Thanks Robbo. All very sound analysis although I’m more hopeful about the Rebels rather than confident, mostly because the Sharks are quite capable of winning both of their matches.

      I agree however, just being in the fight is a big step forward and if they do hold on top 8th that will be a great springboard for more improvement next year, as the squad develops further and establishes a real identity.

      • July 4th 2018 @ 4:42pm
        robbo999 said | July 4th 2018 @ 4:42pm | ! Report

        Yeah Geoff the Sharks are a worry – there should be a rule – you cannot finish higher than a team that beat you by more than 20 points! Wait, that would rule out……?

        I’ve given them the Stormers game – even though its the Stormers last game of the season and at home – but I am confident in the Jags as is probably evident from my other comments. I genuinely do expect them to make the final.

        Thankfully the weather in Melbourne this week is going to unpleasant at best. Nothing to do but stay home and watch rugby.

        • Columnist

          July 4th 2018 @ 8:01pm
          Geoff Parkes said | July 4th 2018 @ 8:01pm | ! Report

          As if we need to use the weather for an excuse to stay home and watch rugby… ๐Ÿ™‚

    • July 6th 2018 @ 4:59pm
      Jacko said | July 6th 2018 @ 4:59pm | ! Report

      Robbo…thanks for an enjoyable read…I of course hope you are totally wrong and that my Chiefs get the job done and in to 2nd on the ladder meaning 4th on the “adjusted” ladder and they host a home 1/4 final…..After that I hope they dont have to travel to SA as this almost kills any chance of a win the following weekend. Im really sorry the rebels will lose the next 2 matches and go out of the finals but as you say…next year is another year…..Good luck…just not too much…lol

      • July 7th 2018 @ 1:44pm
        robbo999 said | July 7th 2018 @ 1:44pm | ! Report

        Thanks Jacko – well my inner Nostradamus just went to sh…

        Good luck today

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