It’s squeaky bum time as Super Rugby teams make final push for playoffs

12 July 2018 - 07:00 By Khanyiso Tshwaku
Berrick Barnes of the Waratahs stretches during a Waratahs Super Rugby training session at Moore Park on May 19, 2011 in Sydney, Australia
Berrick Barnes of the Waratahs stretches during a Waratahs Super Rugby training session at Moore Park on May 19, 2011 in Sydney, Australia
Image: Cameron Spencer

With the Super Rugby league stage reaching the finishing line on Saturday‚ there’s still plenty to play for.

Four New Zealand teams have qualified for the quarter-finals‚ while the Crusaders have already won their conference.

The Waratahs have also stitched up the Australian conference and all eyes will be on the South African conference where the top spot is still up for grabs.

The conference winners and the highest ranked wild-card team will host quarter-finals.

Here are the scenarios that could play out from Saturday's key matches:

Highlanders (40) v Rebels (35) – Dunedin – 07.15am

With the fifth-placed Chiefs (45) having a superior points difference (+91)‚ the highest the Highlanders can finish is sixth‚ which means they'll avoid the Crusaders but will look at the South African proceedings with interest.

With the Lions currently third‚ the Highlanders will have to make the trip across the Indian Ocean to Johannesburg.

If the Lions (41) trip up against the Bulls and the Jaguares (38) beat the Sharks (32)‚ then a trip to Argentina could beckon for Aaron Mauger's side.

The Rebels (35) need to win to keep the Sharks out of play-off reckoning but will need a big bonus point win against the Highlanders to finish sixth.

The Highlanders‚ though‚ could get an even better play-off bet if the Brumbies beat the Waratahs (44) and the Lions beat the Bulls‚ which means a visit to Sydney to face the Waratahs.

Waratahs (44) v Brumbies (30) – Sydney – 11.45am

The Waratahs are second at the moment and should they beat the Brumbies‚ they'll remain there and can't be caught by the Lions. They will face one of the Jaguares‚ Rebels or Sharks at home if they stay second.

If they lose and the Lions win‚ they will finish third and face the Highlanders‚ whom they have beaten this season.

An unlikely Brumbies win has to be a big‚ bonus point one and hope that the Sharks and Rebels lose to sneak into the play-offs‚ where they'll finish eighth and go to Christchurch.

Lions (41) v Bulls (29) - Ellis Park – 3.05pm

The Lions need to beat the Bulls or they face the risk of dropping to as low as seventh if the Highlanders get past the Rebels and the Jaguares beat the Sharks. If the latter result indeed happens should they lose to the Bulls with the Highlanders beating the Rebels‚ the Lions could find themselves travelling to Sydney.

A win against the Bulls‚ coupled with a Waratahs triumph against the Brumbies‚ will see the Lions facing the Highlanders. If the Waratahs lose and the Lions win‚ the Lions will host the seventh-placed team‚ which could be one of the Rebels or the Jaguares.

Sharks (32) v Jaguares (38) – King's Park – 5.15pm

The Sharks' equation is the simplest one: they need to beat the Jaguares and hope the Highlanders beat the Rebels. If it works out in this fashion‚ the Sharks will finish in eighth place but will have to travel to Christchurch to face the Crusaders.

If the Jaguares lose and the Rebels win‚ the South Americans have the Crusaders on their menu as the Sharks can't catch the Rebels or the Jaguares.

The Jaguares will have to hope that the Lions beat the Bulls‚ which will give them a shot at winning the South African conference. If they beat the Sharks on the back of a Lions loss‚ they win the conference‚ eliminate their hosts and will clash with the Highlanders.

Current quarter-final line-up according to current log positions: Crusaders (first) v Rebels (eighth) Waratahs (second) v Jaguares (seventh) Lions (third) v Highlanders (sixth) Hurricanes (fourth) v Chiefs (fifth)

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