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Final dash: All the permutations

Tue, 09 Jul 2013 13:07
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Jan de Koning takes a look at what awaits in the last round
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The top six in the Super Rugby competition has already been determined. However, the order in which they finish has not.

That will make for a very intriguing final round of league action this weekend, with the last match - the Stormers versus Bulls at Newlands on Saturday - to have the last say.

The Bulls, Chiefs, Brumbies, Crusaders, Red and Cheetahs are the teams that will contest the play-offs - starting with the preliminary 'qualifiers' (or quarterfinals) on July 19.

Three teams - Bulls, Chiefs and Brumbies - can still finish first on the standings. The Crusaders can still top the New Zealand conference, but can't finish higher than second. The Reds can't finish higher than fourth and the Cheetahs's best possible finish is fifth.

While two of the games this weekend - Rebels versus Highlanders and Sharks against Southern Kings - won't affect the play-off positions, there is plenty to play for, even for those teams.

The Highlanders and Kings are hoping to avoid finishing last, although the Kings are already heading to their own play-offs - when they meet the Lions in a South African promotion-relegation series on Friday, July 26 (in Port Elizabeth) and Friday, August 2 (in Johannesburg).

However, the focus will be on the matches involving to top six teams.

The Bulls need a win to secure first place and the privilege of home ground advantage in the play-offs. However, they can still finish first if the Chiefs lose to the Blues and Brumbies fall against the Western Force.

The same apply to the Chiefs and Brumbies - who must both win and hope the other two teams lose to secure that valued first place.

In fact even second place has some advantages - a bye in the first round of the knock-out stages and then homeground advantage in the semifinals.

The Crusaders are in a similar position. They must beat the Hurricanes with a bonus point in the weekend's opening match and then sit back hoping the Chiefs lose a day later to go top of the NZ conference.

The Reds can't catch the Brumbies in the Aussie conference, but a win will at least give them home ground advantage in the first round of the play-offs - if the Crusaders lose.

The Cheetahs can finish fifth, if the Reds lose, but for them it is simply a matter of where they will travel to.

If they finish fifth, they will play the fourth-placed team - which could be the Chiefs or Crusaders. If the finish sixth, they will play the third-placed team - which could be the Bulls or Brumbies.

Jan de Koning takes a look at what awaits us in the last round, before the play-offs!

Bulls
Current position: First
Best possible finish: First
Worst possible finish: Third
Remaining fixture:
The Stormers in Cape Town

Chiefs
Current position: Second
Best possible finish: First
Worst possible finish: Fourth
Remaining fixture:
The Blues in Auckland

Brumbies
Current position: Third
Best possible finish: First
Worst possible finish: Third
Remaining fixture:
The Force in Perth

Crusaders
Current position: Fourth
Best possible finish: Second
Worst possible finish: Fifth
Remaining fixture:
The Hurricanes in Christchurch

Reds
Current position: Fifth
Best possible finish: Fourth
Worst possible finish: Sixth
Remaining fixture:
The Waratahs in Sydney

Cheetahs
Current position: Sixth
Best possible finish: Fifth
Worst possible finish: Sixth
Remaining fixture:
Bye (worth four points)

* The rest of the teams won't feature in the play-offs. but they all still have pride and better positions to play for.

Stormers
Current position: Seventh
Best possible finish: Seventh
Worst possible finish: 10th
Remaining fixture:
The Bulls in Cape Town

Waratahs
Current position: Eighth
Best possible finish: Seventh
Worst possible finish: 11th
Remaining fixture:
The Reds in Sydney

Blues
Current position: Ninth
Best possible finish: Seventh
Worst possible finish: 11th
Remaining fixture:
The Chiefs in Auckland

Sharks
Current position: 10th
Best possible finish: Seventh
Worst possible finish: 11th
Remaining fixture:
The Kings in Durban

Hurricanes
Current position: 11th
Best possible finish: Eighth
Worst possible finish: 11th
Remaining fixture:
The Crusaders in Christchurch

Rebels
Current position: 12th
Best possible finish: 12th
Worst possible finish: 14th
Remaining fixture:
The Highlanders in Melbourne

Western Force
Current position: 13th
Best possible finish: 12th
Worst possible finish: 15th
Remaining fixture:
The Brumbies in Perth

Highlanders
Current position: 14th
Best possible finish: 12th
Worst possible finish: 15th
Remaining fixture:
The Rebels in Melbourne

Southern Kings
Current position: 15th
Best possible finish: 13th
Worst possible finish: 15th
Remaining fixture:
The Sharks in Durban

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