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Thread: Road to the Finals

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    Road to the Finals

    Each Super Rugby Pacific side’s playoff permutations after Round 12

    Tue, May 14, 2024, 12:39 PM
    Nathan Williamson


    With just three games remaining in the regular season, every position is still up for grabs heading into the Super Rugby Pacific finals.

    A lot has been made about the finals structure but it has essentially ensured every game has significant meaning heading into the business end of the season.

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    Three teams can still claim the minor premiership and potential home Final advantage.

    Meanwhile, up to seven teams are fighting for finals positions, with a number of them facing each other in what could be finals eliminators.

    Rugby.com.au breaks down the situation for all 12 teams.

    1st - Blues (45 points)
    v Highlanders, at Crusaders, v Chiefs

    The Blues vaulted themselves into top position with their tough win over the Hurricanes.

    They'll back themselves to maintain their position for this weekend against the Highlanders, who they've dominated in previous match-ups.

    The Crusaders and Chiefs will be real tests in the final fortnight, especially the defending champions at home if they are still alive in finals contention.

    2nd - Hurricanes (43)
    v Moana Pasifika, at Chiefs, v Highlanders

    On the flip side, the Hurricanes are suddenly the hunters after starting the year with eight straight wins.

    Like the Blues, they face two sides in the bottom half but both in Wellington which is a major boost.

    The Chiefs are the danger side, who can jump the Hurricanes into the top two with a bonus point win in Round 14.

    3rd - ACT Brumbies (39)
    v Crusaders, v Rebels, at Force

    The Brumbies have been quietly building and suddenly find themselves hunting a home Final.

    The sixth-place Rebels are the highest team they face on the ladder but the Brumbies have found themselves guilty of dropping big games late in the season to deny themselves peak position on the ladder, with both the Blues and Hurricanes facing top-four opposition.

    This week's clash against the Crusaders is a really dangerous game whilst the final match of the year against the Force could be a finals decider for the team in the west

    4th - Chiefs (38)
    at Rebels, v Hurricanes, at Blues

    The Chiefs' run home is the toughest any Super Rugby team faces to finish the season.

    Facing the top two sides in the competition will provide a real test of where they sit in terms of finals contention, with the sixth-placed Rebels no easy beats.

    They could secure a home semi-final but could drop out of the top four altogether if they can string wins together.

    5th - Queensland Reds (31)
    at Drua, v Force, at Waratahs

    The Reds will be hoping for results to go their way to secure a home quarter-final.

    They're facing a comparatively easier run home than the Chiefs, although a trip to Suva to face the Drua is never easier.

    They'll need to win at least two of their games and hope the Chiefs can drop their games against the top two sides.

    6th - Melbourne Rebels (25)
    v Chiefs, at Brumbies, at Drua

    The Rebels control their own destiny but face a tough trio of games to finish the year.

    25 points was enough to get into finals the past two years but the competitiveness of this year's competition may mean they need one more win to be secured.

    This could leave a difficult trip to Fiji in the final round against the Drua, who are playing for their own finals hopes.

    7th - Highlanders (23)
    at Blues, Drua, at Hurricanes

    Their breakthrough win over the Crusaders made a tough run home for the Highlanders significantly easier.

    Their round 14 match against the Drua will likely decide their finals hopes with a host of teams in the chasing pack facing each other.

    If they can't defeat them or either of the top sides, the Highlanders may be reliant on results to go their way

    8th - Fijian Drua (17)
    v Reds, at Highlanders, v Rebels

    The Drua will back themselves with two home games in the final three rounds.

    They have proven tough to defeat in Fiji, especially in Lautoka, where they host the Rebels in the final round.

    Mick Byrne's side will be hoping to nab a scalp against the Reds or Highlanders to ease their nerves.

    9th - Western Force (15)
    v Waratahs, at Reds, v Brumbies

    Likewise with the Drua, a favourable run of games late at home have the Force's confidence sky high for the final rounds.

    The win over the Fijians was huge in regards to their season and they face a similar must-win game against the Waratahs.

    Even with victory over the NSW side, they still will likely need a result against one of the top Australian sides.

    10th - Moana Pasifika (14)
    at Hurricanes, v Waratahs, at Crusaders

    Moana Pasifika will have a free swing against the Hurricanes before back-to-back must-win games against the Waratahs and Crusaders.

    They famously ended Michael Hooper's Waratahs career with defeat last season and need to back it up next weekend to keep their dreams alive of a maiden finals berth.

    However, the task of needing victory against the Crusaders to finish the season is a herculean task.

    11th - Crusaders (14)
    at Brumbies, v Blues, v Moana Pasifika

    This is foreign territory for the defending champions, who potentially need victories from all three games to get the chance to defend their title

    It starts with the Brumbies in Canberra, who are unbeaten at home in 2024 before a 2022 Final rematch against the Blues.

    They'll be favourites to defeat Moana Pasifika, but it could be all over then if they can't start to put wins together.

    12th - Waratahs (12)
    at Force, at Moana Pasifika, v Reds

    It's a weird situation for the Waratahs to be on the bottom of the ladder yet with a real chance to be playing finals football

    They face two finals contenders away from home before returning home to face a Reds outfit whose position may already be secured if the Chiefs win two straight games.

    It'd be a stunning rise for the Waratahs, who are in injury hell after losing yet another front-rower.

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    Immortal jargan83's Avatar
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    I guess a benefit of such a small comp and TV wanting extra content means the whole comp is still a chance of sneaking into the top 8.

    Not exactly a meritocracy though is it given the sides 6-12 have currently lost more games than they've won.

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    Quote Originally Posted by jargan83 View Post
    I guess a benefit of such a small comp and TV wanting extra content means the whole comp is still a chance of sneaking into the top 8.

    Not exactly a meritocracy though is it given the sides 6-12 have currently lost more games than they've won.
    There's just about an argument to have all in with either a Bye for being #1 &/or #2 or double chances for highest loser type thing.

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    Quote Originally Posted by jargan83 View Post
    I guess a benefit of such a small comp and TV wanting extra content means the whole comp is still a chance of sneaking into the top 8.

    Not exactly a meritocracy though is it given the sides 6-12 have currently lost more games than they've won.
    Do you know why there aren't more games? If each side each other twice in a home and away match across the season, that'd be 22 regular games, and then a top 4 for the final would be credible.

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    Immortal jargan83's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Burgs View Post
    There's just about an argument to have all in with either a Bye for being #1 &/or #2 or double chances for highest loser type thing.
    If they want to extend the series beyond a semi final then final set up, I'd have a Top 6 with the teams finishing 1st and 2nd in the regular season getting week 1 off.

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    So we are 2 points off the Drua and 4 off the Highlanders.

    They play each other next week. Hard to know who you want to win. Highlanders play the Hurricanes in the final week (Hurricanes v likely to win). The Drua play the Rebels in Fiji- could go either way. I think the best scenario is for the Landers to beat the Drua.

    No easy games for us- 2 wins will almost certainly see us in the finals. 5 points might be enough.

    Crusaders play the Blues next week- probably a loss for them- but they could come into contention depending on how other results go.

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    Immortal Contributor shasta's Avatar
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    To be honest, I'm so unimpressed with this joke "finals" series that I'm not too fussed if we get there or not. But I'll be over the moon if we win our last 2 derbies regardless.

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    Yeah. There is a fair gap between the haves and have nots and top 8 seems silly. In saying that, I feel like we should've beaten the Rebels, Moana, Highlanders and Brumbies this year. Our 4 wins have been convincing. We could easily be sitting in 6th place.

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    Quote Originally Posted by shasta View Post
    To be honest, I'm so unimpressed with this joke "finals" series that I'm not too fussed if we get there or not. But I'll be over the moon if we win our last 2 derbies regardless.
    Look, I get the argument about qualifying for finals is a joke. The Tahs are in with a shot STILL and they're solidly stuck in the Wooden Spoon with virtually no hope of raising off the floor.

    HOWEVER

    Since the 8/12 finals have been in play we have never had a season where the 8 has been finalised before the last round. That gives every team in the comp something to play for in the last couple of rounds and stops a whole bunch of shit games where teams roll out development squads to see if bloke X is good enough for rugby at this level.

    so there's a catch 22, Either we maintain the status quo of the semi finals being nothing more than an extra loss on the scoresheet for teams 4-8 or we have teams shutting their season down progressively 4 weeks from the end of the season. I'm not saying one is better than the other, I'm only saying there are merits to both systems.

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    Immortal GIGS20's Avatar
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    ps I don't see any way of us making the 8 if we don't win 2 out of 2, which will be awesome, but also pretty bloody difficult.

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    Two rounds out and how it’s like to end up (IMO):

    Blues, 1st, 50 pts, Crusaders (A), Chiefs (H)
    Should beat the Crusaders, even if they are improving. Should beat the Chiefs, although they may be resting a few stars. Likely finish with 58/59 pts and 1st.

    Hurricanes, 2nd, 47 pts, Chiefs (A), Highlanders (H)
    This week’s match-up with the Chiefs should be good, and is one of the toughest to pick, but should win the final game. Likely 52/53 pts and probably 2nd.

    Brumbies, 3rd, 43 pts, Rebels (H), Force (A)
    The Brumbies aren’t winning by big flashy scores, but they are winning, and to be honest should win both their remaining games. Likely 51/52 pts and probably 3rd.

    Chiefs, 4th, 42 pts, Hurricanes (H), Blues (A)
    Tough couple of games, and the Chiefs have a choice: they are safe in 4th so could rest some players, or push hard and try aim up the table. The Brumbies have two easier games, so it may be difficult to overtake them, and even if they do, there’s little advantage to 3rd over 4th in the table. But if they do beat the Hurricanes this weekend, especially with a bonus point, then 2nd becomes possible. Likely 47/48 pts and 4th, but that could be 52 pts and pushing for 2nd/3rd if the Blues decide to rest players.

    Reds, 5th, 31 pts, Force (H), Waratahs (A)
    The Reds can’t improve from 5th, but would probably expect a couple of wins. The good news for us is that no team has won the week after they’ve played in Fiji, and the Reds were in Suva last week. Should finish with 36 pts and keep 5th sewn up.

    Rebels, 6th, 26 pts, Brumbies (A), Drua (A)
    The Rebels have won two away games this year, but they were against Moana and the Waratahs. I can’t see them picking up another win, but they could get a losing bonus point or two. Likely 27 pts and 7th.

    Highlanders, 7th, 23 pts, Drua (H), Hurricanes (A)
    The Drua don’t travel well, but the Hurricanes in Wellington, especially if 2nd is uncertain, should be too much for the Highlanders. Unlikely to grab 5th, but could easily get 6th off the Rebels. Likely 28 pts and 6th.

    Drua, 8th, 21 pts, Highlanders (A), Rebels (H)
    Drua’s travels have got them a single losing point (against Moana, in Melbourne) but only a single loss at home. I see this going the same way. Likely 25 pts and 8th.

    Force, 9th, 19 pts, Reds (A), Brumbies (H)
    I think we’ve got a good chance of getting an away win this week, given the Reds travel back from Fiji, and we’ve played well against the Brumbies in both the trial and the match in Canberra (when we still had a 3rd choice front row) but if the Brumbies’ 3rd place is in danger I think they’ll turn on the style. Likely finish with 23/24 pts and miss out on the finals.

    Crusaders, 10th, 15 pts, Blues (H), Moana (H)
    I can’t see the Blues letting up against the Crusaders, but they should manage a home win against the Moana in a match that will be played for nothing other than pride. Likely 20 pts and 10th, but could easily be 11th.

    Moana, 11th, 14 pts, Waratahs (H), Crusaders (A)
    I could actually see Moana winning both of these games, even though their away record is awful (they’ve only beaten us) but I’ll only give them a single win and likely 19 pts for 11th, but could be 23 pts and 10th (or 9th is we slip up!).

    Waratahs, 12th, 12 pts, Moana (A), Reds (H)
    Although the Moana match is winnable, if they play like they did against us the Tahs have no chance, and then while the Reds have nothing to play for, and may rest their stars, even the 2nd string should beat this sorry Waratah side. They may get a losing bonus point, but I can’t see them getting more. Likely 13 pts and wooden spoon.

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    I think I have greater angst with losing bonus points keeping ordinary teams in contention (looking at you Rebels...) than I do with an 8/12 Finals.
    Agreed with Gigs, it has kept all teams engaged rather than falling on their swords early, you know the lower teams are still putting out (at least what they believe to be) their best XV each week, not trialing 2025 (yet).
    I just look at the season as a ranking process for a knock out process and don't get too bothered with what other sports deem appropriate.
    It would be nice to think it was half or less of the teams involved, but that has proven unfeasible/manageable, so for now, here we are.

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    I'd prefer a 22 game, full home and away season (with a couple of byes for a 24-week regular season) and then a finals only consisting of the top 4 (possibly top 6). But that's mainly because I'd rather have 11 guaranteed home matches a season than 6-7.

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    I'd agree with Sheikh as a preferred structure. Also with Burgs re bonus points - only one "innovation" grinds my gears harder - much harder - and that's golden point.

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    Absolutely should be a full H&A.
    I may have a different position on the rest then.

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