Reds in uphill battle to make Super finals
The Reds may have come home with a wet sail but it’s unlikely they’ll be headed into the sunset with it. The Super Rugby defending champions have won their past five games and you would have to bank on them making it six in a row when they play the Waratahs at Suncorp Stadium on Saturday.
Still, the likelihood is they’re not going to be able to defend their title (the Reds are currently at $29). Untimely injuries and a sluggish start haven’t helped, but the lack of bonus points hurts.
The advantage for both (each is on 54 points) going into the final round is twofold. The Bulls will play the last-placed Lions in Pretoria and the Sharks also enjoy a home game in Durban against the tenth-placed Cheetahs. Bonus points are in the mix for both and if achieved will almost certainly leave the Reds out of the finals regardless of the score against NSW. The prospective South African finalists also have the advantage of knowing exactly what they have to do given they feature in the last two matches of the round.
The Tahs match will be an arm wrestle. The Queenslanders want a bonus point but the last time they achieved that in this interstate grudge match was in 2003.
Where their wins will be a factor is if they finish on equal points with another team in the six. Unlike many other football competitions, the default for Super Rugby when teams are tied after the regular season is not points differential but overall victories.
So what will happen?
For mine, the Stormers (62 points) will break the shackles and get a bonus win over the tired Rebels to tip the Chiefs (63 points) from first. The Waikato side will down the Hurricanes (53 points) but it will be tight, because the Wellington side remain mathematical chances of making the six. The Brumbies will win and top the Australian conference, while the Crusaders will snatch fourth. Unfortunately for the Reds, the Bulls and Sharks will get over the line.