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Thread: Road to the Super Rugby finals

  1. #1
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    Road to the Super Rugby finals

    With 2 weeks left it's time to take a look at how things are standing and who the potential finalists will face in those last two rounds.

    The Contestants:
    Reds 14 11 0 58
    Stormers 14 11 0 57
    Blues 14 9 1 55
    C'saders 14 9 1 53
    Sharks 14 9 0 51
    Bulls 14 9 0 49
    Waratahs 14 8 0 47
    H'landers 14 8 0 45

    Saturday, 11th of June:
    Crusaders vs Blues
    Waratahs vs Highlanders
    Force vs Reds
    Stormers vs Bulls
    Lions vs Sharks

    Friday, 17th of June:
    Blues vs Highlanders
    Saturday, 18th of June:
    Chiefs vs Reds
    Crusaders vs Hurricanes
    Waratahs vs Brumbies
    Bulls vs Sharks
    Cheetahs vs Stormers

    Prediction: Highlanders
    The Highlanders have an outside chance of earning a wild card entry into the finals, sitting just one win out of the top six. They would likely need 2 wins to make it, however, and have the hardest road of any team. Two away games against other finals contestants, the Waratahs and Blues, should see them knocked out of the race, especially since they have lost their last two home games to teams below them on the ladder. Out.

    Prediction: Waratahs
    The saving grace for the Waratahs will certainly be that the final round sees the Bulls and the Sharks face off at Loftus. The 'Tahs also have both of their games in Sydney which should boost their chances of scraping in. While two wins would almost guarantee a finals berth, it is possible for the New South Welshmen to squeeze it with just the one. 6th.

    Prediction: Bulls
    Like the Highlanders, the Bulls will find it tough to make it into the top 6. The Bulls play very tough derbies against the Sharks and the Stormers, who are both higher on the Super Rugby ladder. It's hard to see the Bulls beating the Stormers in Capetown, although it's the result that the Aussies and Kiwis will be praying for. The following game against the Sharks at Loftus will be immense. Two of the most physical teams in the competition belting it out to desperately hang onto a finals spot. I could see them winning this one but I'm not convinced it will be enough. Out.

    Prediction: Sharks
    Despite what Bonehead du Plessis thinks, there are easy games in the South African conference. The Sharks have a freebie in facing the Lions in Durban next weekend. The Lions will be exhausted from a gruelling 4 match tour of Australia and New Zealand, and should be easy pickings for a clinical Sharks outfit. The only real risk there is if the Sharks don't bring their mental toughness and let the Lions get a sniff of victory. It'll be an even 50/50 in the final round for honours against the Bulls, but the win over the Lions should be enough to get them over the line. 4th.

    Prediction: Crusaders
    The South Islanders will be very refreshed from their bye this weekend. They'll need it for their two derbies to end out their season. Class always rises to the top, and you can't help but think that the Crusaders will take both of them. A win over the Blues should see the Cantabrians top the New Zealand pool. With the way the Hurricanes have been playing that clash shouldn't raise too much of a sweat. 3rd.

    Prediction: Blues
    Something isn't quite right in Auckland. Like with the Waratahs, for all the talented players they have there, something just doesn't click. Maybe it's the coaching? Maybe the culture? Who knows. Either way, they just don't seem to live up to their potential. For all their mid season form, you can see them petering out at the pointy end. The crucial clash for the Blues will be the Crusaders next weekend. They face a refreshed team with a better scrum, better line-out, and better at the breakdown. They don't have it in them to win this one. They'll take the game the following weekend against the Highlanders, but they won't top the NZ conference. 5th.

    Prediction: Stormers
    The Stormers face both the Bulls and the Cheetahs in their path to the finals. Despite these two teams having particularly strong packs, I would back the Stormers in both clashes. The Stormers have had a great tour of Australia and New Zealand and will be buoyed by the opportunity to snatch the top of the log and the opportunity of a home final. 1st.

    Prediction: Reds
    What happened to the Reds last weekend? They had the chance to cement their claim as minor premiers with a home win over the Brumbies, but they absolutely failed to show up. It was evident by the 10 minute mark that the Reds weren't into the game and that it would go to the away team. The Reds are lucky in that they don't have to play any other finalist aspirants in the last two rounds, but that doesn't necessarily mean these two away clashes will be any less tough. The Reds are developing a few injury woes and may struggle against the intensity of the Force at the breakdown or the class of the Chief's backs. I can't see them winning both and I think it is a pretty even chance for which of the Force or the Chiefs will take their scalp. A solitary win won't be enough to keep the Stormers from leapfrogging them. 2nd.

    That would make a finals series of:
    Crusaders vs Waratahs in NZ
    Sharks vs Blues in Durban

    I would back both home teams. Making the semis:
    Reds vs Crusaders in Brisbane
    Stormers vs Sharks in Capetown

    Two tougher finals I doubt you'd ever see. I'd tip the Crusaders and Stormers to take their respective games and for the Stormers to win the ensuing final.

    What are your thoughts/opinions?

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  2. #2
    Veteran mudskipper's Avatar
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    Reds need to watch out for an improving Chiefs at home... Furthermore with Digby out, the Reds showed they have little out wide and can't utilise Coopers key weapon the long pass... If Force play it close they can win at home next week... and Brumbies just showed them how to do it... Reds are in a world of trouble...

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    Bravo Muddie, able to worm the Brumbies as a positive into a discussion about the finals, that is quite a gift you have there...

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    Yeah. I would've said the Force showed the Brumbies how to do it in round 1. Except that we didn't actually win.

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    Champion oxleymoron's Avatar
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    As only one of the bulls or sharks can make finals, have the brumbies been asked by the ARU to lose, so there are 2 oz teams in finals?
    Posted via Mobile Device

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    both could still make the cut off surely?
    if the tahs lose next week then both SA teams go through

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    Senior Player tic's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by mudskipper View Post
    Reds need to watch out for an improving Chiefs at home... Furthermore with Digby out, the Reds showed they have little out wide and can't utilise Coopers key weapon the long pass... If Force play it close they can win at home next week... and Brumbies just showed them how to do it... Reds are in a world of trouble...
    Oh my. Nostradamus strikes again...NOT.

    You are a dead set chump.

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    So now that the Reds have topped the log, what is the likely finals scenario?

    I'm guessing it will end up:

    1. Reds
    2. Stormers
    3. Crusaders
    4. Blues
    5. Bulls
    6. Waratahs

    Which would suit the Reds pretty well as their biggest danger, the Crusaders, would have to travel to Africa before playing them in the final. The semi against either the Blues or the Bulls shouldn't be too hard as they've beaten both these sides at home and no doubt the Blues will win, mostly due to the travel load on the Bulls, but will be softened up immensely by the Bulls. It would definitely be better for the Reds if the Bulls win though because that will mean another week for them on the road.

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