Super Rugby playoff picture: Who is playing who?

Author
Cameron McMillan, NZ Herald ,
Section
Rugby,
Publish Date
Monday, 9 July 2018, 11:10AM
The Hurricanes and Chiefs are set to meet twice in two weeks. Photo / Getty
The Hurricanes and Chiefs are set to meet twice in two weeks. Photo / Getty

With just one more round of games left in the regular season, here's how the Super Rugby playoffs could play out:

Playoffs schedule - as it stands

Crusaders (Seed 1) vs Rebels (Seed 8)
Waratahs (Seed 2) vs Jaguares (Seed 7)
Lions (Seed 3) vs Highlanders (Seed 6)
Hurricanes (Seed 4) vs Chiefs (Seed 5)

How things can change

1st v 8th:

The Crusaders have locked in a home quarter-final, sitting eight points clear of the Hurricanes. So that isn't changing. Their opponent could. The Rebels currently sit in eighth spot but face an away game against the Highlanders on Saturday. A defeat for the Rebels, and a win for the Sharks against the Jaguares could see the South African side make the trip to Christchurch instead. The Brumbies could also sneak into eighth with a win over the Waratahs and defeats for both the Rebels and Sharks. The Highlanders could also still fall to eighth.

2nd v 7th: The Waratahs secured a home playoff spot with their 77-25 thrashing of the Sunwolves. They could drop to third with a defeat to the Brumbies and a Lions win over the Bulls. The Jaguares seem the likely opponent in the quarter-finals but the Rebels could create a local clash with a win in Dunedin.

3rd v 6th: The Lions hold top spot in the South Africa Conference by three points over the Jaguares. The Lions finish the regular season against the Bulls, the bottom placed team in South Africa. For the Jaguares to pinch top spot they'd need a win over the Sharks in Durban and a Lions defeat in Jo'burg. The Lions are set to face the Highlanders, who currently sit in sixth, who finish at home against the Rebels on Saturday. The Lions could also move up into second with a win and a Waratahs defeat, they could also drop as far as seventh.

The Highlanders should win but remain five points shy of the Chiefs with a +/- difference of 105 points. The Highlanders seem locked into sixth spot and a trip to either South Africa, Argentina or Australia awaits.

4th v 5th: This fixture is pretty much locked in. The Chiefs could take home advantage with a 23-point win over the 'Canes in Hamilton on Friday. But it seems very likely these two teams will meet a week later in Wellington.

That means of the seven games this week, two have nothing riding on them -
Reds v Sunwolves and Crusaders v Blues - while the Brumbies are the only side outside of the top eight who still have a chance of making the playoffs.

Possible results could really make calculations interesting: Lions lose to Bulls, Jaguares beat Sharks, Highlanders lose to Rebels. That would mean the Jaguares would take the SA Conference top spot, then the Lions, Highlanders and Rebels would be battling for the sixth, seventh and eighth spots.

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