There are two rounds remaining in the Super Rugby Pacific regular season and there are only six points separating 8th and 11th as the fight intensifies for the final playoff spot.
Further up the table, the Chiefs will secure the top seed for the quarter-finals with one more victory. The Crusaders, Brumbies, Blues, and Hurricanes are only separated by five points with the top four teams earning hosting rights for the quarter-finals.
1. Chiefs - 50
2. Crusaders - 42
3. Brumbies - 41
4. Blues - 38
5. Hurricanes - 37
6. Waratahs - 31
7. Reds - 23
8. Force- 22
9. Highlanders - 19
10. Fijian Drua - 17
11. Rebels – 16
12. Moana Pasifika – 3
Present Quarter-Final Line Up (Home Team Listed First)
Chiefs v Western Force
Crusaders v Queensland Reds
ACT Brumbies v NSW Waratahs
Blues v Hurricanes
Round 14 Matches (Home Team Listed First)
Friday, 7:05pm (NZT): Highlanders v Queensland Reds
Friday, 7:35pm (AEST): Melbourne Rebels v Western Force
Saturday, 2:05pm (FJST): Fijian Drua v Moana Pasifika
Saturday, 4:35pm (NZT): Crusaders v NSW Waratahs
Saturday, 7:05pm (NZT): Blues v Hurricanes
Saturday: 7:35pm (AEST): ACT Brumbies v Chiefs
A last-play penalty by Sam Gilbert snapped the Highlanders five-game losing streak to revive their playoff hopes. The Reds visit Dunedin this weekend smarting from a loss to the Blues in Brisbane. The Reds won’t be absent of confidence following their first victory in 21 matches on New Zealand soil a fortnight ago against the Chiefs in New Plymouth. Expect a tight tussle with the Highlanders 27-19 victors in their 2022 clash. Another loss for the locals will end their playoff chances.
The Rebels have lost seven games by ten points or less in 2022. The Force are unbeaten at home but have been average away. Their first-round clash was won by the Force following a last-play try to Jeremy Thrush. What will happen? Who knows but the Rebels can play with a free license with only slim playoff prospects. Their luck might change.
Fijian Drua and Moana Pasifika produced one of the matches of the season in their first meeting. If history repeats with a Drua victory, they will revive their flagging playoff prospects. A last-round fixture against the Reds is very winnable.
The Waratahs have won four in a row and beat the Crusaders last year. However, this trip to Christchurch is an intimidating prospect against the reigning champions who have outscored opponents 104-23 in their last three matches.
The Hurricanes rested All Blacks Ardie Savea, Jordie Barrett, and Tyrel Lomax in their loss to the Chiefs. They’ll be back for the Blues who they lost to 19-25 in Wellington in March. The Hurricanes and Blues are tied at 19 wins apiece throughout their history. Expect a tight one.
The Brumbies rested eight Wallabies against the Force and paid the price with a miserable defeat. They’ll be at full strength against the Chiefs who feared a lot better with their top roster against the Hurricanes. Tupou Vaa’i was especially good scoring two tries in the wet weather. In many ways, this could be a virtual New Zealand v Australia test match, at least in the upfront battle.
So, who do I support this weekend?
Chiefs supporters: The Chiefs destiny is in their own hands. Beat the Brumbies and first place and the minor premiership is secured.
Crusaders supporters: A Brumbies win over the Chiefs would keep alive the faint possibility of a first-place finish. The Blues are a point ahead of the Hurricanes who the Crusaders play away in the last round so a Blues victory is a preference.
ACT Brumbies supporters: ACT Brumbies fans will be cheering on their neighbours the NSW Waratahs to take out the Crusaders in Christchurch. If that happens then the Brumbies are a big shot of finishing in second place.
Blues supporters: Another team in blue. If the Waratahs upset the Crusaders that opens the prospect of a second-place finish especially if the Chiefs have the measure of the Brumbies in Canberra too.
Hurricanes supporters: First you need to topple the Blues at Eden Park on Saturday night. Then you need the Chiefs to take out the Brumbies and the Waratahs to stun the Crusaders to provide a shot at a second-place finish in the last round.
NSW Waratahs: Realistically, the Waratahs could rise as high at fifth on the ladder at the end of the regular season. For that to happen they need the Hurricanes to leave Eden Park this weekend without a competition point against the Blues. Oh, they will also need to beat the Crusaders at home too.
Queensland Reds: For the Reds, it is all about the teams immediately below them on the ladder falling over this weekend. If you are from Queensland, then cheer loud for the Rebels to topple the Force and Moana Pasifika to stun the Fijian Drua.
Western Force: First job is to beat the Rebels in Melbourne. Whether or not that happens you will still want to cheer for Moana Pasifika to beat the Fijian Drua and the Queensland Reds to topple the Highlanders to keep your spot in the top eight.
Highlanders supporters: The Highlanders robbed the Rebels in Dunedin but will be hoping their Melbourne rivals can extend Force misery on the road. Highlanders fans will also want to cheer on Moana Pasifika to secure their first win of the season over the Drua. If all these results happen, then the Highlanders will be sitting pretty for the playoffs.
Fijian Drua supporters: A win over Moana Pasifika this weekend will put the Fijian Drua in the playoffs mix. Other results needed are the Rebels to beat the Force and the Reds to beat the Highlanders.
Melbourne Rebels: Provided the Rebels can beat the Force then their fans will want to cheer loud for Moana Pasifika to upset the Fijian Drua and the Queensland Reds to beat the Highlanders. That will keep the Rebels in the playoffs race in the final round.
Moana Pasifika: Cheer for your team to get its first ’W’ in 2023 against the Fijian Drua!
If teams are tied on competition points, here’s how it’s decided:
a) Most wins from all matches
b) Greatest points-difference
c) Most tries from all matches
d) Greatest tries-difference
e) Coin toss