© New Zealand Broadcasting School 2019

The Battle for the Last 4 Spots in Super Rugby Playoffs

Nick Brown
Super Rugby

It all comes down to the last week of Round Robin Games in the Super Rugby competition.

So far The Crusaders (1), Jaguares (2), Brumbies (3) and Hurricanes (4),  have secured home quarter-final games, while The Blues (13), Reds (14) and Sunwolves (15) have been knocked out of the competition already.

However, the last round of games this week will decide which 4 teams will make it to the finals out of the remaining 8 in contention for a playoff spot

PREVIEW OF THE MATCHES TO WATCH:
(ALL GAMES IN NZT)

Highlanders (11) vs. Waratahs (12) Friday 14th June 7:30pm @ Rugby Park Stadium in Invercargill, NZ

Both teams are missing key players in this critical game. All Black Veteran Ben Smith has been ruled out of the home side due to his on-going hamstring injury, while the visiting NSW side are missing five key players due to Australia's rest policy for the upcoming Rugby World Cup in Japan. Both sides will be looking to secure a bonus point victory, and the winner of the match will then have their finals fate determined based on the results of the later matches.

Rebels (7) vs. Chiefs (10) Friday 14th June 9:35pm @Melbourne Rectangular Stadium in Melbourne, AUS

The Chiefs will be playing possibly their strongest side this season, with star players Brodie Retallick and Sam Cane returning from injury. However, their minus 65 for/against points difference could hurt their chances at securing a spot in the finals if they were to lose this important game. The Rebels will be playing a near-full strength side, pairing veterans Quade Cooper and Will Genia in the backline. However, they will be without test lock Adam Coleman as he is out with an injured shoulder. A win for the Melbourne home side would secure their spot, while the Hamilton squad would need bonus point win to stamp their ticket to the next round.

Stormers (7) vs. Sharks (9) Sunday 16th June 1:05am @Newlands Stadium in Cape Town, SA

This South African Derby is an important game for both teams without question. The Stormers will be without scrum-half Herschel Jantjies after he received a shoulder injury in last week's win over the Sunwolves. Both teams will need this win to secure their spot, however the Stormers can secure a spot in the playoffs if the two New Zealand sides win without bonus points.

Bulls (5) vs. Lions (6) Sunday 16th June 3:15am @ Loftus Versfeld Stadium in Pretoria, SA

The last game of the round robin will be closely watched not just by the already secured finalist but every team vying for a spot in the top 8. The Bulls are all but guaranteed a playoff spot, and the Lions need a single point but they will not be taking any chances. While these two teams may have a chance of going through together to the next stage, a win for either side will secure their spot, and the loser's finals fate will be determined on the results of the other games played this week.

So, here is the breakdown of what each team needs to make it into the playoffs (according to Super Rugby):

Highlanders: The Highlanders need to win with a bonus point to go up to 36 points. They will then need the Chiefs to beat the Rebels without a bonus point or the Lions to lose to the Bulls without gaining any competition points to make it into the top 8.

Chiefs: The Chiefs have some breathing room over the Highlanders because they have one extra regular season win which places them above the Highlanders despite the fact they are on the same competition points. A bonus point win would be enough to see the Chiefs into the playoffs. If they win without a bonus point, they can still make it if either of the Highlanders or Waratahs win without a bonus point and the Stormers either win, or lose without a bonus point.

Waratahs: The Waratahs need the most to go their way if they are to make the playoffs. First thing they need to do is win with a bonus point over the Highlanders. They then need the Chiefs to beat the Rebels without a bonus point and without finishing on a better points differential, which means they leapfrog both the Chiefs and Rebels into playoff contention.

Lions: A win, draw or a loss with a bonus point should all see the Lions into the playoffs. Given they have already won eight games, they will sit above any team they finish on equal points with. If the Lions don’t manage to pick up any competition points, then they can still make the top eight provided the Waratahs win or the Chiefs and/or Highlanders win without a bonus point.

Stormers: A win or draw against the Sharks will secure the Stormers a place in the top eight. They can also make it in on the back of a losing bonus point if the Highlanders (or Waratahs) and Chiefs both win without a bonus point.

Rebels: A win or a draw against the Chiefs in Melbourne will confirm the Rebels spot in the playoffs.

Sharks: Win and they are in.

Bulls: The Bulls are all but guaranteed a place in the playoffs.