The final league weekend of Super Rugby marked the end for some teams. And just the beginning for the top four, who will compete for Super 14 glory. The Bulls, Stormers, Waratahs and Crusaders are the four teams that will be playing in the Super 14 semi-finals this coming weekend.
The Bulls came into the last round assured of a semi-final position, and a home semi-final at that. Their opponents, the Stormers, had a lot more to play for and had to defeat the Bulls to secure a home semi-final for themselves. The Bulls fielded a “B” team which the Stormers lapped up and walked away with an easy 38-10 victory, which included four bonus-point tries.
The other two teams to qualify did not have such an easy run to the semis with a different result in their last league game, meaning no semi-final place. The Crusaders were the first team to go through with a convincing 40-22 win over the Brumbies, which got them a bonus point as well, and dropped them, temporarily, into second place. The Waratahs’ 32-16 victory over the Hurricanes resulted in the Crusaders losing their second place and put the Stormers in fourth, giving the Waratahs hope that they would get a home semi-final if the Stormers lost.
With the final four decided, not much was left to play for other than pride for the remaining 10 teams. The Sharks managed a tight 27-22 victory over Western Force which summed up a somewhat patchy season that left the Sharks wondering what could have been. The Blues did well to beat the Chiefs and end off on a high note with a 30-20 victory, although the match was nothing exciting to watch with 30 errors in 24 minutes.
The Reds got back to their winning ways with a thrilling victory over the Highlanders which saw no less than 11 tries, five of which the Highlanders scored in the second half. A last minute try by the Reds levelled the scored with a successful conversion breaking the deadlock.
The Lions did what they did best this season and lost. The Cheetahs thrashed them 59-10 which meant that they would join the Sharks mid-table and also left them wondering what could have been.
There are less than seven days until the semi-finals and the excitement will rise closer to the end of the weekend with the possibility of having two South African teams in the finals of the Super 14.
In other rugby news the Argentinean Pumas look set to join the Tri-Nations to form the new Four Nations tournament. This agreement will also allow greater opportunity for Argentinean players to play in Super Rugby teams during the build up to the Four Nations.
On the topic of Argentina, the Baby Boks also wrapped up their preparations for the Junior World Championships that will be held in Argentina with a 31-31 draw to the Eastern Province Vodacom Cup side. Good luck boys! Let’s bring home another world cup.