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Super Rugby Cheer Guide: Round 15

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Wednesday, May 22, 2019    allblacks.com    Getty Images

Teams below are jostling for positions near the top, with some crucial match-ups taking place this weekend. We've broken it all down to work out who you should be cheering for:

Current Placings
1. Crusaders - (49 competition points)
2. Bulls - 32
3. Brumbies - 29
4. Hurricanes - 40
5. Jaguares - 32
6. Lions - 30
7. Sharks - 29
8. Highlanders - 29 

Quarterfinal predictions
Here’s what would happen based on the current placings:

• The Crusaders would host the Highlanders in Christchurch
• The Hurricanes would meet the Jaguares in Wellington
• The Bulls would clash with the Sharks in Pretoria
• The Lions would travel all the way to Canberra to face the Brumbies

But what could happen is …

With four rounds to play, virtually anything can happen with all teams aside from the Sunwolves still in playoff contention.

The Crusaders are unlikely to be caught at the top of the NZ conference with a nine-point buffer over the Hurricanes. But even if they were to have a form dive they still have enough points to qualify in second place and secure a home quarterfinal.

The South African conference is the most fascinating with six points separating the top and bottom sides. Last year’s finalists the Lions are peaking at the right time and ominously placed in third position on 30 points.

The Sunwolves have only picked up 12 points from 12 games so have no chance of making the playoffs but can still play spoilers in the Australian conference. Like the South African conference, just six points separate the first and fourth team. All four of those teams still have a shot at topping the conference so every competition point will be crucial over the coming four rounds.
So, what do I need to know?
• The Blues are the only New Zealand team that has four games remaining. The other four teams all have one bye left which could prove crucial in the final wash-up
• The Crusaders are way out in front and can only be caught by the Hurricanes who are nine points behind on 40 points. For this to happen, the Hurricanes would have to win their final three games (preferably with bonus points) and hope the Crusaders get tripped up in the final rounds
• The conference leaders are far from confirmed in both the Australian and South African conferences. The Brumbies are clinging to top spot by one point, and the Rebels could knock them off this weekend when they play the Sunwolves and go on to top of the conference.
• The Hurricanes already have enough points to qualify for the playoffs and should hold onto the fourth place wildcard spot to secure a home quarterfinal with the Jaguares the closest contender eight points back on 32 points.
• Despite sitting at the bottom of the NZ conference on 23 points, The Chiefs can still make the playoffs. To do so, they will need to beat the Reds, Crusaders and Rebels and await other results to go their way.
So, who do I support this weekend?
First up, a big thanks to the match officials who have had a long season as well. Without them we couldn’t have a game. So thank you to all our officials who pick up the whistle or flag throughout the season.

Blues supporters: First and foremost you are cheering for your team to take out the Crusaders at home on Saturday night. On Friday, you will be hoping the Reds can do a job on the Chiefs in Hamilton to shake them from your tail and that the Highlanders fall over in Cape Town against the Stormers.

Chiefs supporters:
It’s a huge game on Friday night against Brad Thorn’s Reds in Hamilton. A bonus-point victory will keep you alive for another week so get to FMG Stadium Waikato and get those cow-bells ringing.

Crusaders supporters: After a tough South African tour your team is back at home in Christchurch against the Blues. A victory over the dangerous Blues will virtually wrap up top spot for you in the NZ conference with three rounds to play.

Hurricanes supporters: Your team has the chance to put up its feet, enjoy the bye and get refreshed for the final three rounds. You will have your fingers crossed that the Blues can upset the Crusaders to keep your chances of topping the conference still alive. You will also want to keep a close eye on the Jaguares and Lions who are the closest teams to you on the ladder.

Highlanders supporters: After failing to pick up a point against the Lions last week in Johannesburg, Highlanders fans will be hoping to pick up a rare road win against the Stormers early on Sunday morning (NZT). A loss will probably see the Highlanders drop out of the top eight so make sure you set your alarms for 1.05am on Sunday for what will be a season-defining clash.

Nitty Gritty
Looking ahead to the semifinals, the winners of quarterfinal 1 v 8 and quarterfinal 4 v 5 will meet in semifinal one, while the winners of quarterfinal 2 v 7 and quarterfinal 3 v 6 will meet in semifinal two. What this means for the New Zealand conference is that the Crusaders and Hurricanes are locked on a semifinal collision course should they both keep winning.

If teams are tied on competition points, here’s how it’s decided:

a) Most wins from all matches
b) Greatest points-difference
c) Most tries from all matches
d) Greatest tries-difference
e) Coin toss