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Super 15 Top 6 Preview

As the season draws to a close, I thought it would be a good idea to have a look at the potential makeup of the top 6. As we know from the results of the weekend, the Reds cannot be overtaken on top of the Australian conference and therefore are the only team qualified.  For the other teams though, all is still up for grabs with another two rounds left.

Reds – Current position: 1st (58 points)

Remaining games: Force (Away), Chiefs (A)

The Reds could have had first spot all but wrapped up for the season with a victory over the Brumbies last weekend. However, they are still in the lead at the moment, but only by a slim one point margin. They are guaranteed to finish inside the top 3, thanks to the Waratahs loss to the Bulls on the weekend. To make sure that they take out the top spot, they will probably need to win both of their remaining games. One win should be enough to see them finish second, but that would be dependent on other results. They do not have great records at either venue, but as they have proven over the last few years, that means nothing.

Prediction: 1st (Aus conference winner) should be well within their reach.

 

Stormers – Current position: 2nd (57 points)

Remaining games: Bulls (Home), Cheetahs (A)

After a highly successful Australasian tour, the Stormers have a tight grip on top of the South African conference and have a very realistic shot at taking out 1st place. They have a tough run in, however; they need to play the defending champions at home and then have a tricky away game to the Cheetahs in the last round. They would probably need to win both of their games and get a bonus point to overtake the Reds, but anything is possible at this time of the year. One more win should see them take out the South African conference, giving them a top three berth. They have a good enough defence to take the title, but it is their attack that would need to click for the full 80 minutes.

Prediction: 2nd (South African conference winner) should be able to do enough to hold second and challenge for the top spot.

 

Blues – Current position: 3rd (55 points)

Remaining games: Crusaders (A), Highlanders (H)

The Blues campaign has faltered in recent weeks, with three losses hurting them badly. They could have potentially been 1st this week, had they managed to overcome the Chiefs. However, the loss has opened the door to the Crusaders to win the NZ conference. The Blues need to rediscover their early and mid season form if they are to win the conference, with the deciding match coming this weekend. 1st place is still on the cards, as is a top two finish, but both would require either the Stormers or the Reds (or both) dropping games. Its seems simple enough, beat the Crusaders and win the conference. The Blues though, have a history of being inconsistent. This team looked to have cured that, but recent weeks have shown their frailties.

Prediction: 4th (they can still drop out of the top 6)

Crusaders – Current position: 4th (53 points)

Remaining games: Blues (H), Hurricanes (H)

The Crusaders are right in the hunt after their bye this week. They can still take out first, but would have to win both games and hope that the Stormers and Reds stuff up. Of more importance though, will be trying to secure the win in the NZ conference. They will be missing Richie McCaw for the next couple of weeks, but other then that they should have a strong line up available to them. They would be looking to reignite their attack that was so superb earlier on in their competition. Still a class side, the Crusaders are still able to grind out tough wins. Which is good as they have a tough run into the finals, with two “home” games against the Blues and Hurricanes.

Prediction: 3rd (NZ conference winner)

Sharks – Current position: 5th (51 points)

Remaining games: Lions (A), Bulls (A)

The Sharks have come back into a bit of form with victories over the Waratahs and the Cheetahs. They will be a bit concerned that in both these games they got themselves into a bit of a hole before digging themselves out. Momentum will be on their side though, and they have shown that they can be dangerous. They have a tough game against the Bulls away, but should be able to take out a win against the Lions.  They need at least one win plus a couple more points to get themselves a set place in the top six. A couple of bonus point wins could see them take out the championship, but that would be an unlikely scenario. The top South African conference spot is still within their grasp, but they would probably need those two bonus point wins and a Stormers loss.

Predicition: 5th

Bulls – Current position: 6th (49 points)

Remaining games: Stormers (A), Sharks (H)

The defending champions have managed to resurrect their season with a string of wins, but will have a tough road to the playoffs. They are sitting only two points above the 7th place Waratahs and are in danger of not making the playoffs should they lose both games. This is a distinct possibility considering the calibre of opposition they face in the next two games. Six points should be enough to see them safe, but they would want to make sure of it with a couple of wins. They could be done a favour by the Highlanders and the Brumbies over the next few weeks.

Prediction: 6th

Waratahs – Current position: 7th (47points)

Remaining games: Highlanders (H), Brumbies (H)

This will be a tough ask for the Waratahs to make the playoffs. In their favour though, is the fact that the Bulls have a tough run home and they have to play the 5th placed Sharks in the last round. There is a window of hope, but the Waratahs cannot afford to drop any more points. They can still finish quite high up the table, but would need other results to go in their favour. They have got two opposition that they could easily beat, but they cannot underestimate either of these two teams. A loss could see them drop out of contention.

Prediction: 7th (just missing out)

Highlanders – Current position: 8th (45 points)

Remaining games: Waratahs (A), Blues (A)

The possibility of the Highlanders getting into the top 6 is not high, but they still have one last possible shot. The fairytale team of the competition have faded over the last few weeks and will need to beat both the Waratahs and the Blues and get bonus points in both games to have any chance of getting into the top six. Whilst this could be quite possible, the Highlanders have not looked like a team that could put four tries past good opposition. They generally grind down their opposition. The will have to settle for a position outside the top six.

Predicition: 8th

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