James Mortimer 08.Jul.2012
The Chiefs, who lost to the Crusaders however with a 28-21 defeat in Hamilton, could drop to second on the table, if they lose to the Hurricanes next weekend and the Stormers defeat the Rebels.
Who joins the Chiefs in the Super Rugby Finals Series is still to be determined.
For Australia, the Brumbies need just a solitary competition point to wrap up the Australian Conference, and a bonus point win over the Blues, coupled with the Stormers being unable to notch a single competition point against the Rebels – would see the Canberra based franchise finish second overall.
The top two teams receive the first week off in the Super Rugby Qualifiers.
In South Africa the Stormers have locked up their Conference, and if the Sharks and Bulls beat the Cheetahs and Lions respectively, then the Republic will have three teams in the top six.
The Blues, with a three-competition point buffer over the bottom placed Lions, need to win in Canberra to ensure they finish well away from the foot of the table.
One team that will be cheering on Pat Lam and the Blues will be the Reds, for if they can deny the Brumbies a solitary competition point, then the Reds will have their own destiny in their hands when the face the Waratahs.
For the Crusaders, victory against the Force guarantees them fourth spot overall and a home wildcard qualifying position.
If the Crusaders lose, and three of four teams - Sharks, Bulls, Reds or Hurricanes – win, then the seven-time champions will miss out on knockout action for the first time since 2001.
The Hurricanes, the lowest ranked team still in with a mathematical chance to reach the Super Rugby Finals Series, need to defeat the Chiefs in Wellington in their final match of the season.
If they do this, they then need at least two of four teams – Crusaders, Sharks, Bulls or Reds – to lose to gain qualification.