Stormers in perfect position
13 July 2012 | RUDOLPH JACOBS
JOHANNESBURG - The shock 28-25 last-minute win the Hurricanes scored over the log-leading Chiefs yesterday has thrown the cat among the pigeons, with the Stormers now only needing two points against the Rebels in Cape Town this afternoon to reclaim top spot.
Eight teams are still in the running to qualify for the six spots in the play-off round and the script has been written for an action-packed final weekend of the pool part of the competition.
Former Springbok lock, Lions caretaker coach Johan Ackermann, said this week the Stormers are the best-placed local team because of possible home ground advantage.
Even if the Bulls and Sharks qualify for the play-offs today they will likely have to travel next weekend which will have the jetlag factor playing a major role.
“History has shown that it’s difficult to win (in the play-offs) away from home which leaves the Stormers in the best position of the South African teams,” he said.
“It will be tough for the Sharks and the Bulls if they have to travel.
“The Crusaders will be contenders as always while for large parts, the Chiefs have also been the form team of the competition.”
The Bulls and the Sharks will need bonus point wins against the Lions and the fired-up Cheetahs respectively to secure the fifth and sixth spots.
But there’s also a lot riding on the points difference, as the fifth-placed team will probably have to travel to Christchurch to take on the Crusaders, and the sixth-placed team will have the “easier” route, probably having to travel to Canberra to confront the Brumbies.
But the Bulls, who have a 17-point superior aggregate that the Sharks, will dig their own grave if they are out to manipulate the points outcome as the Reds and Hurricanes are only one point adrift in seventh and eight positions and could easily overtake the South Africans.
- The Chiefs, on 64 points, need the Stormers to fail to get more than one point against the Rebels to finish top.
- The Stormers (62) need at least a draw for two points against the Rebels at Newlands to secure top position on the combined log, since the Capetonians have won more games.
- One point will ensure the Brumbies (58) win the Australian Conference and secure a spot in the play-offs.
But if they get a full house against the Blues, and the Stormers fail to get a single point against the Rebels, the team from Canberra can still slip into the top two.
If the Brumbies lose and get zero and the Reds get five against the Waratahs in Brisbane, the defending champions can still win the Aussie Conference.
- The Crusaders (56) can’t finish higher than fourth and need at least three points against the Force in Christchurch to secure their spot in the play-offs.
- The Bulls (54) will feature in the finals series if they can get five points against the Lions in Pretoria.
- The Sharks (54) also need five points against the Cheetahs in Durban to secure their spot in the play-offs.
If both the Bulls and the Sharks manage five log points from their final league fixtures, the team with the best points difference will finish higher on the log.
- The two teams that could still sneak in are the Reds (53) and the Hurricanes (57).
The Reds need to win and if they catch the Bulls or the Sharks on the log, the Queenslanders will advance as they have won more games.
But they will remain in seventh position if both the South African teams win with bonus points – it could be an agonising wait for the team from Brisbane.
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