Super Rugby Finals: The best and worst ladder positions for each team and predicted match-ups in the quarter-finals

With just one weekend to go before the finals in the Super Rugby Pacific competition, the top eight are almost done, but the jostling for positions is still intense.

This is each team’s best and worst scenario for their final standings and predicted quarter-final opponents for the top eight.

How do the finals work?

There is a straightforward three-week play-off structure for the Super Rugby Pacific final.

In week one, the top eight teams will play out in the quarter-finals based on ladder position. The games are 1 vs 8, 2 vs 7, 3 vs 6 and 4 vs 5 with the best team hosting.

On week two, the highest ranked Quarter Final winner will receive the lowest ranked Quarter Final winner and the second highest ranked Quarter Final winner will receive the third highest ranked winner.

In week three, the winner of the first semifinal will receive the other winner of the semifinal.

All times are TBC, depending on the host teams.

A reminder of the points system

League Points are awarded in all regular season games on the following basis:

Win: 4 points
Draw: 2 points (there have been no draws in the competition so far).
Loss: 0 points if you lose more than 7 points.

Bonus: 1 point for loss by 7 points or less.
Bonus: 1 point for 3 attempts or more than the opponent.

How Tires on the Table Are Resolved

At the end of the season, if two or more teams are tied on match points for a position on the table, the final standings will be determined using the following steps until the tie is broken

a) Most wins of all matches;
b) Highest total points difference of all matches;
c) Most attempts of all matches;
d) Highest overall difference of total attempts for versus attempts against of all matches;
e) Toss Coins

Does everyone have one game left?

No, The Western Force will face Moana Pasifika on Tuesday in a make-up match that has been postponed due to Covid, so they both have two to play.

Each team’s final scenarios

Blues, 1st54 points

Remaining game: ROAD vs. NSW Waratahs, Saturday 7:45pm AEST.

Scenarios: The Blues are guaranteed a first-place finish and a home Super Rugby Pacific final if they win the quarter-finals and semi-finals. They are six points clear of the second-placed Crusaders and would be tempted to let star players rest with first place safe and after a heart-pounding encounter with the Brumbies on Saturday night.

All Blacks winger Caleb Clarke is unlikely to appear after he appeared to have injured his hamstring against the Brumbies, while Rieko Ioane has a similar problem.

The Highlanders, currently eighth, appear to be the most likely opponent in the quarterfinals.

Forecast: The Blues will finish on top and can afford to take it easy against the Tahs, which could add some extra drama to the playoff picture.

Michael Hooper of the Waratahs charges the pitch during the Round 14 Super Rugby Pacific game between the Highlanders and the NSW Waratahs (Photo by Joe Allison/Getty Images)

Crusaders, 2nd, 48 points.

Remaining game: home vs. Reds, Friday 5:35 p.m. AEST.

Scenarios: The Crusaders cannot come in first, but will drop to third if they lose more than seven points (missing a bonus point) and if the Brumbies can win with a bonus point against bottom-seeded Moana Pasifika. The second scenario seems like a good bet as MP has lost 11 of their 12 matches and will back up after a match on Tuesday as well.

The Crusaders should be fresh in key areas as Scott Robertson has left Pablo Matera, David Havili, Will Jordan and Richie Mo’unga to rest for a beating from Fijian Drua.

A second place finish would pit the Crusaders against the seventh seeded side. That’s currently the Reds, but the pace between 5-7 is so tight it could be a quarter-final against the Hurricanes (fifth) or Waratahs (sixth).

Forecast: The Crusaders will have too much for an injury-ravaged Reds to secure second place and therefore face the Queenslanders again in the first week of the final.

Brumbies, 3rd, 44 points.

Remaining game: ROAD vs. Moana Pasifika, Saturday 5:05 PM AEST.

Scenarios: The Brumbies can finish second as explained in the Crusaders section above, but they can also slip to fourth if they lose to MP and the Chiefs beat Fijian Drua.

However, the Brumbies can’t finish lower than fourth, so a home final is certain. If they finish third, they will face the sixth-placed team – currently the Waratahs, although the Reds and Hurricanes could also finish there.

Forecast: The Brumbies can easily take on Moana Pasifika, but remain third. Expect the Hurricanes to have too much for the Force, also backing up for two games this week, to retain fifth place, marking a blockbuster quarter-final between the Brumbies and the Waratahs in Canberra.

Chiefs, 4th, 41 points.

Remaining game: ROAD vs. Fijian Drua, Saturday 1:00 PM AEST.

Scenarios: The Chiefs can take third over the Brumbies if they push aside the Drua as expected and the Brumbies suffer a shocking defeat to Moana Pasifika. But a surprise loss of their own could see the Chiefs slip to sixth, if the Hurricanes and Waratahs both win their games.

Forecast: The Drua are unlikely to deliver the shock needed to deprive the Chiefs of a home final and the most likely result is they remain in fourth place and face the fifth-seeded Hurricanes – although the Reds and Tahs also like could finish fifth.

Hurricanes, 5th, 38 points.

Remaining game: AWAY vs. Force, Saturday 10 p.m. AEST.

Scenarios: The Canes could take fourth with a victory over the Force, if the Chiefs are upset by Fijian Drua. But an upset loss could see them drop to seventh if both the Tahs and Reds win.

Forecast: Expect wins for both the Chiefs and Canes and a quarterfinal between the pair in Hamilton.

Waratahs, 6th, 37 points.

Remaining game: HOME vs. Blues, Saturday, 7:45 PM AEST.

Scenarios: The Tahs won their eighth of the season in Dunedin on Sunday – their first success there since 2008 – to continue the impressive rise under Darren Coleman. A win over the Blues, who might be tempted to rest players with pinned top positions, could push the Tahs into fourth. For that to happen, they need a winning bonus point and the Chiefs and Hurricanes must both lose, the Chiefs by more than seven.

A Tahs loss and a Reds win against Crusaders see them slip one spot to seventh.

Forecast: With the Blues safely on top and the Tahs in front of a huge crowd in Leichhardt, it’s all about an oversteer. However, the Canes and Chiefs will both win, with the Tahs remaining in sixth place and facing the Bumbies in the quarters.

Red, 7th, 35 points.

Remaining game: AWAY vs. Crusaders, Friday 5:35 p.m. AEST.

Scenarios: A Reds win could see them finish fifth, but that would require losses to the Hurricanes and Waratahs. However, they couldn’t finish worse than seventh, while the Highlanders couldn’t take them from eighth.

Forecast: The Reds lost James O’Connor to a hamstring injury and Josh Flook to a shoulder injury and now have 10 regulars sidelined with injuries. That makes winning in Christchurch unlikely and it looks like they will face the same opponent on the same ground a week later.

Jock Campbell of the Reds attends the Round 14 Super Rugby Pacific match between the Queensland Reds and the Moana Pasifika at Suncorp Stadium on May 20, 2022 in Brisbane, Australia.  (Photo by Bradley Kanaris/Getty Images)

Jock Campbell of the Reds. (Photo by Bradley Kanaris/Getty Images)

Highlanders, 8th, 22 points.

Remaining game: AWAY vs. Rebels, Sunday 2:00 PM AEST.

Scenarios: The Highlanders can’t reach the Reds and are six points clear of the ninth-seeded Rebels, yet are not guaranteed a place in the final against the Blues. The Force has two to play and if they both win and get at least one winning bonus point, they will take eighth if the Highlanders lose by more than seven.

Forecast: The Highlanders were bad against the Tahs on Sunday, losing Sam Gilbert to a stupid red card. However, they should have just about enough to cross the line, especially with the Force facing the Hurricanes over the weekend after a game against Moana Pasifika on Tuesday.

Rebels, 9th, 16 points.

Remaining game: HOME vs. Highlanders, Sunday 2:00 PM AEST.

Scenarios: The Rebels cannot capture the Highlanders, but can be passed by the Force. They are just five points away from Fijian Drua in 11th place, but a superior points difference means the Fijians can’t catch them.

Forecast: A loss to Highlanders coupled with a Force win over Moana Pasifika on Tuesday sees the Rebels finish 10th.

Force, 10th, 14 points.

Other games: ROAD vs. Moana Pasifika, Tuesday 5:05 PM. home vs. hurricanes, Saturday 10 p.m.

Scenarios: There’s still a slim chance the Force could slip into the quarters eighth, but they have to hope the Highlanders lose their last game and win them both, with at least one bonus point. But there’s also a chance they’ll finish last – if they lose both matches, if Fijian Drua wins their last match and Moana Pasifika wins their two remaining matches.

Forecast: The Force to defeat Moana Pasifika, but lose at home to the Hurricanes, allowing them to jump over the Rebels to ninth place.

Drua, 11th, 11 points.

Remaining game: HOME vs. Chiefs Saturday 1:00 PM AEST.

Scenarios: Drua can improve one place if they win and the Force loses twice. They will finish last if Moana Pasifika wins both matches and the Force wins their second match. If MP wins one with a bonus point and Drua loses, that’s enough to give the Fijians the lowest points.

Forecast: Another loss comes in, but they may have done just enough to dodge the wooden spoon.

Moana Pasifika, 12.6 points.

Other games: HOME vs. Force, Tuesday 5:05 p.m. AEST. HOME vs. Brumbies, Saturday 5:05 p.m. AEST.

Scenarios: With two wins, MP could finish in 10th – well, ninth if they score an absolute mountain of points along the way, but they could also finish with the wooden spoon. Their match against the Force seems to be their best bet for a second win of their campaign.

Forecast: They fought hard against the Reds but failed to get the job done. The Force is an opportunity and we think they could take a win there but miss a bonus point and just fall short of 11th place.

Predicted quarter-final match-ups.

Blue (1) vs Highlanders (8).

Crusaders (2) vs. Reds (7).

Brumbies (3) vs. Waratahs (6)

Leaders (4) vs Hurricanes (5).


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