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Super Rugby Review: Week 18

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Saturday, July 7, 2018    Lynn McConnell    Getty Images

The Australian Conference winner is assured as the Waratahs after the Reds beat the Rebels 37-23 while the Jaguares' 34-43 loss to the Bulls in South Africa left the winning of the Africa Conference to be decided on the final weekend when the Lions host the Bulls while the Sharks host the Jaguares. 

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If the playoffs started next weekend the games would be: Crusaders v Rebels, Hurricanes v Chiefs, Waratahs v Jaguares, Lions v Highlanders.

It is possible that teams could end up tied on the points table. If that happens the team with most wins from all matches will be the higher-placed side. If still level it will be the team with the highest aggregate points difference from all games that goes through. If still at an impasse it will be the team with most tries from all games and if another tie needed to be broken it would be the highest aggregate difference of total tries for and tries against from all games. Should that not resolve the issue a coin toss would be required.

New Zealand Conference

It had been billed as the game of the round and it lived up to hopes as an outstanding contest which was not reflected by the final 45-22 margin. However, the clinical qualities of the Crusaders ensured what opportunities that were created were taken whereas the Highlanders were unable to make the most of theirs.

The Chiefs continued their post-June break spell with another dominating first half against the Brumbies in their 24-19 win. But they had to face a strong Brumbies comeback in the last 15 minutes and were in danger of undoing all their good work – that second half drop off could be an issue at playoffs time.

Getting back on their winning path was probably the most meaningful outcome of the Hurricanes 42-24 win over the Blues but, again, it wasn't until late in the game that they were free of the Blues defences. Second five-eighths Ngani Laumape marked the occasion with four tries. The Hurricanes travel to Hamilton for the last round to play the Chiefs while the Crusaders host the Blues and the Highlanders meet the Rebels.



Australia Conference
Making an emphatic statement for their playoffs aspirations, the Waratahs ran roughshod over the Sunwolves to claim a 77-25 win. They ended the round nine points clear at the head of the Australian Conference. Not even a 36th successful place kick to break the Super Rugby record by Sunwolves five-eighths Hayden Parker could halt the 12 tries to three blitz by the home team.

The Rebels had some anxious moments after their 23-37 loss to the Reds as their playoffs hopes were in the hands of the Sharks. However, the Sharks fell to the Stormers so the Rebels survived. A sin-binning against them, and a penalty try, did not help their cause as the Reds' defence produced a welcome win for the side.

In Hamilton, the Brumbies refused to lie down and a controversial last ruling of a knock-on went the way of the Chiefs when the Brumbies felt it should have been in their favour ended a sterling comeback and, effectively, the Brumbies playoffs hopes. The Waratahs will host the Brumbies in the last round while the Reds host the Sunwolves and the Rebels travel to Dunedin to meet the Highlanders.



Africa Conference
Upsets in both South African Conference games left the final placings to be decided in the last round. If the Bulls turn around and beat the Lions that would give the Jaguares a chance of claiming first place, although they would need to beat the Sharks.

The Jaguares started like a runaway train in getting out to a 19-0 lead against the Bulls by the 20-minute mark but the home team claimed the halftime lead 21-19 before taking control in the second half for their 43-34 win.

The Stormers dominated their game to claim a 27-16 win over the Sharks whose loss ended their playoffs hopes. Yet, the Stormers could still finish last in the Conference if the Bulls secure a win, or a bonus point, from their game with the Lions next weekend.