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Team-by-team Super Rugby finals scenarios: Every side's best and worst-case scenarios for Round 18

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Roar Guru
3 days ago
4
1894 Reads

Despite last week bringing some sanity to the table, finals positions are still up for grabs with seven games remaining.

The top four – conference leaders and the next best team – have been settled, with one of the wildcard positions wrapped up, by the Bulls. While seven teams remain at least mathematical chances of sneaking in, only three of those will go through.

Crusaders

Best finish: 1
Worst finish: 1
Last game: bye

First place is locked in for the Cantabrians, and the bye won’t change that position for the dominant club.

Jaguares

Best finish: 2
Worst finish: 3
Last game: Sunwolves (home)

The Jaguares will finish in a coveted top two position with a win against the Sunwolves. A draw leaves them at the mercy of the Brumbies, who would overtake them with a bonus-point win if it’s by 16 or more, while a loss means the Canberra team will pass them with a victory, dropping the Argentinians to third.

Domingo Miotti

(Photo by Lee Warren/Gallo Images/Getty Images)

Brumbies

Best finish: 2
Worst finish: 3
Last game: Reds (home)

The Brumbies rely on the Jaguares losing or drawing against the Sunwolves for an opportunity to jump into the top two, and will need to win to make that possible, regardless of what happens in Buenos Aires. Lose or draw, they won’t drop below third.

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Hurricanes

Best finish: 4
Worst finish: 4
Last game: Blues (home)

No result will change the Hurricanes’ fate: fourth, with a home qualifier locked in.

Bulls

Best finish: 5
Worst finish: 8
Last game: Lions (home)

The Bulls currently hold fifth, and the lowest they can fall is eighth, so a finals spot is secure. A victory keeps them where they are, but a third straight draw could drop them to seventh. In the case of a tied game, they fall to sixth if either the Rebels or Stormers win, or seventh if both win.

If neither was to win, the Bulls will maintain fifth with a draw, unless the Sharks manage a bonus point victory by 15 or more. Should they lose and miss out on a bonus point, the Rebels, Lions and Stormers or Sharks all can pass them with wins.

Lions

Best finish: 5
Worst finish: 9
Last game: Bulls (away)

A match against the fifth-placed team is a perfect opportunity to steal that spot for the Lions. A losing bonus point ensures they compete in the post-season, but if they were to lose without gaining one, they could miss the finals. One of the Stormers or Sharks would overtake them in that case, as could either the Rebels or Chiefs, should the latter grab a bonus point win. If the Highlanders claim a bonus-point win, the men from Johannesburg miss out entirely.

Malcolm Marx

(Photo by Sydney Seshibedi/Gallo Images)

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Stormers

Best finish: 5
Worst finish: 10
Last game: Sharks (home)

A bonus-point victory combined with the Bulls and Lions drawing would see the Stormers finish fifth. A regular win, with either the Bulls or Lions taking points off each other and the Rebels not claiming a bonus point, keeps them in seven.

A draw could leave them vulnerable, although if the Lions were to manage a bonus point defeat and Melbourne win in that scenario, they’d only fall to eighth.

A bonus-point loss along with the Chiefs, and one of the Highlanders and Waratahs, winning without a bonus point drops them to eighth. A loss without a bonus point means it’s the end of the season for the Stormers.

Rebels

Best finish: 5
Worst finish: 11
Last game: Chiefs (home)

Currently holding the last playoffs spot, the Rebels will want to win, so they won’t have to travel to Christchurch. A victory over the Chiefs combined with a Bulls draw and the Sharks not losing lifts them to fifth.

If the Bulls and Stormers both win, a Melbourne victory would push them up a place. A draw with the Chiefs – as long as the Stormers don’t lose – sends them through to the quarter-finals, too.

If they draw but the Sharks win, it’s curtains. If the Rebels clinch a losing bonus point, they’ll need the Stormers not to lose, and neither of the Highlanders and Waratahs to claim a bonus point win, so they can slot into eighth.

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Isireli Naisarani

(AAP Image/Craig Golding)

Sharks

Best finish: 5
Worst finish: 13
Last game: Stormers (away)

For the best-possible fifth finish, the Sharks need to win with a bonus point and by 15 points or more and then have the Bulls clinch their third straight draw and the Rebels not win. A win with the Bulls and Chiefs also getting the job done lifts the Durban side to sixth.

Lose or draw, and it’s the end of the road for the Sharks.

Chiefs

Best finish: 6
Worst finish: 14
Last game: Rebels (away)

A bonus point win by 46 or more coupled with the Lions losing by eight or more and a Stormers draw, means the Chiefs would finish sixth. A win, if neither the Highlanders nor Waratahs win by a bonus point, would see them into eighth.

But if the Gallagher side win without a bonus point and one of the Tahs and Landers do, the best the Chiefs can hope for is ninth. A draw or loss would also end their season.

Highlanders

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Best finish: 7
Worst finish: 14
Last game: Waratahs (home)

Now we’re getting into the realm of the dreaded mathematical chances. A bonus point win for the Highlanders, plus the Lions losing by eight or more and Chiefs winning without a bonus point, sees them to seventh. That’s about the only scenario which sees them make the finals.

A bonus point victory won’t be enough if the Lions do get a losing bonus point and the Rebels don’t lose, or if the Chiefs get the bonus point. Anything less than the five competition points ends the year, and if the Blues and Reds both win they’ll drop to an unflattering 14th.

Angus Gardner speaking to Ben Smith and Bernard Foley.

(Photo: Mark Kolbe/Getty Images)

Waratahs

Best finish: 8
Worst finish: 14
Last game: Highlanders (away)

After last weekend’s result, the Waratahs need a bonus point win and a Chiefs victory without a bonus point to finish eighth. That’s the only happy scenario for the Tahs – a bonus point win for the Chiefs ends their season, as would a Rebels win or draw. A regular win, draw, or loss would only make further confirm their finals-less fate.

Blues

Best finish: 9
Worst finish: 14
Last game: Hurricanes (away)

The Blues can’t reach the finals, but a bonus point win with the Sharks losing by eight or more, the Chiefs losing and the Waratahs and Highlanders drawing sees them to an unlikely ninth.

If they were to lose and the Reds beat the Brumbies, they’d drop to 14th.

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Reds

Best finish: 9
Worst finish: 14
Last game: Brumbies (away)

Brad Thorn’s men also won’t play finals, but like the Blues could jump to ninth. This would happen by winning with the bonus point, the Sharks losing without a bonus point, the Chiefs losing, and the Highlanders and Waratahs ending all square.

At worst, the Reds can finish 14th.

Tate McDermott

(Photo by Steve Haag/Gallo Images)

Sunwolves

Best finish: 15
Worst finish: 15
Last game: Jaguares (away)

Another disappointing season for the Sunwolves. They’re locked in for the wooden spoon.