This weekend had the potential to decide a few places in the semi finals, giving a whole lot of teams the security they needed going into the final round of games. But it didn’t, and there are a few teams that still stand a chance now of making the semis, including the seventh-placed Reds.
The Hurricanes made it very difficult for the Reds to qualify for the semis, actually pretty much impossible, by beating them 44-21 in Wellington. The Hurricanes have come to the party late but they are now looking like one of the stronger teams in the Super 14. The game included 31 unanswered points in the second half, which shows that the Hurricanes are coming into form at exactly the right time.
The next game on the cards was the Bulls versus the Crusaders. The game was highly controversial with the winning try by the Bulls, happening after the final hooter, being hotly contested by the Crusaders. Francois Hougaard ran over the line to dot down the winning try after receiving, what looked like, a forward pass from replacement hooker Bandise Maku. It was instead an attempt to stop the move by Ben Frank who knocked the ball onto Hougaard who then ran straight through a gap to score the winning try. This means that the Bulls have now secured a home semi-final and the Crusaders need to beat the Brumbies to ensure they qualify for the semis.
The Waratahs kept their hopes alive with an emphatic 46-19 win over the Chiefs. It also puts them in a strong position for a home semi-final. The Brumbies scored a “last minute” bonus-point try to make sure they are in a strong position for a semi-final place and a long shot home semi-final with a 31-3 win over the disappointing Highlanders.
Later that day the Lions became the holders of a new record but it’s not one they want to be remembered for. After their loss to the Blues, an easy 56-14, the Lions now hold the record for the worst-performing team in Super Rugby history with 12 consecutive losses. Not something any of us are celebrating.
The Cheetahs did South Africa proud and came out blazing with early tries and continued to play hard rugby to record a 29-14 win over Western Force. The last result of the weekend could be very upsetting for South African fans with the Sharks beating second place team, the Stormers, 20-14. This now gives the Stormers the bleak possibility of facing the Bulls two weeks in a row if they are not able to come away with a win next week.
This is what makes Super Rugby so entertaining and next week will give us possibly the most entertaining rugby we have seen all year.
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