Following on from the Report Card last week on The Roar, it seems as good a time as any to map out the run home for the teams definitely and theoretically still in contention for the Super Rugby playoffs.
The short of it is that I think we’ll see minimal change to the current top eight from here on. By my loose predictions, seven of the current top eight will hold on, and five of those are in the positions I think they’ll finish.
My run home predictions for the current top twelve teams. I’m expecting minimal change from here on..
The sight of the Sunwolves’ Prince Chichibu Memorial Stadium in Tokyo absolutely packed to its 25,000 capacity was a great way of starting the marathon. Image: ABC Grandstand
The Roar: In all, the opening round of Super Rugby was a cracker. Almost six tries per game across the nine matches, and five bonus point wins under the new requirement of needing to win by three tries more than the opposition meant that there really was no shortage of entertainment over the weekend.
Rebels’ fullback Reece Hodge enjoyed a dream debut, against the Western Force in Perth. Image: ABC Grandstand
(For what it’s worth, there were only three four-try bonus points earned and a touch over four tries per game scored on opening weekend last season.)
The big ticket item was Saturday: six straight games kicking off mid-afternoon with the Sunwolves’ historic Super Rugby debut in Tokyo, before heading to Christchurch, Sydney, Perth, the Southern Kings’ return to this level in Port Elizabeth, and finishing in Cape Town. Thirteen glorious hours of rugby.
ESPNscrum.com: The rolling maul is a lottery in both hemispheres, and that’s why teams continue to push the envelope. UK Editor Tom Hamilton, local counterparts Sam Bruce and Andy Withers, and myself discuss the big issues in rugby this week including Toulon’s standing in the club scene, Drew Mitchell, the Highlanders, the awfulness of the Sharks, and the increasing number of high-profile concussions in the game.
“When Christian Leali’ifano (second from left) burst through some sorry Cheetahs defence in just the fourth minute on Saturday night, it really looked like the Canberra Stadium scoreboard operators were in for a big night. It didn’t quite work out that way.” Image: ABC Grandstand
ESPNscrum.com: Eight rounds into the Super Rugby season, and while the leading New Zealand teams look stronger and stronger overall, the Lions’ win over the Bulls coupled with losses to the Sharks and Stormers means just two teams separates the four South African sides.
It’s around about now that we start seeing teams begin their run toward the Finals. After seven games last year, the Crusaders had four wins and three losses and posted seven wins from their next nine games to take the NZ conference by seven points. Their tally currently? Four wins and three losses…