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July 10, 2012

One round to play in the 2012 Super Rugby regular season

One round to play in the 2012 Super Rugby regular season

By SANZAR Communications

Super Rugby played out its penultimate round of theregular season over the weekend, and while the top six teams to compete in the Super Rugby Finals Series are still to be decided, South Africa did confirm their Conference winner.

The Stormers (62) 13-6 result in Bloemfontein, and fourth consecutive win over the Cheetahs, gives them an eight competition point buffer over the fifth placed Bulls (54) and sixth placed Sharks (54), meaning that for the second straight season, the men from Cape Town are the South African Conference champions.

New Zealand Conference champions the Chiefs (63),confirmed in Round 16 with their win over the Highlanders, suffered their third loss of the season against the Crusaders (56) 28-21 in Hamilton, breaking a record sequence of six straight wins at Waikato Stadium.

This result not only keeps the seven-time champion’s season alive, but means that the Stormers could potentially leap frog the Chiefs and confirm top position on the table when the regular season ends.

The final makeup of the Super Rugby Qualifiers is still to be determined, with six teams in contention for the other four berths.

The Brumbies (58) moved one step closer to wrapping up the Australian Conference with their first win in Sydney since 2002 with agritty 19-15 win over the Waratahs.

However with the Reds (53) beating the Highlanders19-13, their sixth win in seven matches at Suncorp Stadium this year, not only are the defending champions still alive, but could still upset the Brumbies as Australian Conference champions.

While the Crusaders win over the top-of-the-table Chiefs currently gives them the top wildcard qualifying position, the Sharks(54) impressive 32-10 win over the Bulls (54) means that the Durban and Pretoria based franchises round out the current top six.

SANZAR CEO Greg Peters said that Round 18 promised an exciting conclusion to the regular season.

“With just one round to play, there are still eight teams in contention and the Australian Conference winner’s trophy up for grabs, meaning there is everything left to play for,” Peters said.

“There are literally hundreds of permutations that could occur considering just three competition points separate the fourth placed franchise in the Crusaders and the eighth placed franchise in the Hurricanes.”

“All of the seven matches in Round 18 feature a team vying for a Super Rugby Finals Series position, and we won’t know the final makeup of the top six until the Bulls and Lions play in the final match of the regular season.”

“Further to this all of the team’s out of contention could still have a significant role to play, with some upsets over Round 18 likely to again dramatically change the makeup of the final standings.”

THE RUN HOME FOR 2012 SUPER RUGBY
Round18

Chiefs(63)
Hurricanes(a)
BEST FINISH: 1st
WORST FINISH: 2nd

Stormers(62)
Rebels(h)
BEST FINISH: 1st
WORST FINISH: 3rd

Brumbies(58)
Blues(h)
BEST FINISH: 2nd
WORST FINISH: 7th

Crusaders(56)
Force(h)
BEST FINISH: 4th
WORST FINISH: 8th

Bulls(54)
Lions(h)
BEST FINISH: 4th
WORST FINISH: 8th

Sharks(54)
Cheetahs(h)
BEST FINISH: 4th
WORST FINISH: 8th

Reds(53)
Waratahs(h)
BEST FINISH: 3rd
WORST FINISH: 8th

Hurricanes(53)
Bye,Chiefs (h)
BEST FINISH: 4th
WORST FINISH: 8th