Congested race for minor Super Rugby places
The Stormers‚ Sharks‚ Bulls and Lions are all in a fight for four play-off berths along with the Highlanders‚ Rebels‚ Chiefs‚ Waratahs and Blues in one of the most frenetic finales to a Super Rugby season in history.
Win that and they’re through‚ lose and they have an anxious wait for other results. The Chiefs need to win at a minimum to reach 35 log points.
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The Highlanders (31) face the Waratahs (30) in Dunedin. The loser is definitely out of the reckoning‚ although the winner is not guaranteed a place in the last eight‚ depending on other results.
It all comes down to the two SA derbies‚ which are almost straight knockout matches.
The Bulls (36) face the Lions (35) while the Stormers (34) host the Sharks (33).
Both the Lions and Bulls could advance‚ even if they lose‚ depending on the Rebels winning and whoever wins the Sharks versus Stormers clash denying the loser a bonus point.
The Bulls and Sharks are at a disadvantage though as both only returned from overseas commitments on Sunday and will no doubt feel some travel fatigue.
The Bulls gained a valuable draw in Dunedin against the Highlanders last Friday while the Sharks are trudging back from Buenos Aires via Sao Paolo.
The Stormers might go into the match without star scrumhalf Herschel Jantjies‚ who has a suspected fractured collarbone in Saturday’s 31-18 win over the Sunwolves.
“It’s not looking good for Herschel‚” said Stormers coach Robbie Fleck.
“He’s going for scans. “Johan du Toit (flank) has a rib injury. It’s not ideal with such a big game next weekend‚ but it’s been the story of our season so far.
"We will take stock on Monday and put a team out. “We needed to win our last two games to reach 38 points minimum and we’re on track.
"Missing a bonus point against the Sunwolves was disappointing‚ but first things‚ we had to get the win.”