What lies ahead in Super Rugby Pacific?
Damian McKenzie of the Chiefs. Chiefs v Crusaders, Super Rugby Pacific, FMG Stadium Waikato, Hamilton, New Zealand on the Saturday 29 April 2023. Copyright Photo: Jeremy Ward / www.photosport.nz Photo: Jeremy Ward The Chiefs will look to sew up top spot and home advantage through the Super Rugby playoffs on Saturday when they take on […] The Chiefs and the Crusaders are looking to take on the ACT Brumbies in the Super Rugby Pacific on Saturday, with the latter looking to secure a top-four spot in the quarter-finals and hosting rights in the semi-finals. The Hurricanes are also looking to end a 10-match losing streak at the Crusader when they meet in Christchurch on Saturday. Five teams are jostling for the last two spots in the top eight for a quarter-final berth, with Fiji and the seventh-placed Queensland Reds needing victories away to the Highlanders in Dunedin on Friday.
Published : 2 weeks ago by Adam D Anglo in Sports
The Chiefs will look to sew up top spot and home advantage through the Super Rugby playoffs on Saturday when they take on the ACT Brumbies in a tough road trip to Canberra.
The Blues and Hurricanes will also battle for hosting rights in the quarter-finals and a top-four spot when they clash at Eden Park in the competition’s penultimate regular season round. Though the loser of that game will still have a chance of finishing fourth.
Although eight points clear at the top, the Chiefs will hope to slam the door early on the second-placed Crusaders, who have reliably shifted up a gear at the business end of the season.
Unbeaten at home this year, the Brumbies will not be rolled over easily, though.
Chastened after a costly defeat at Western Force, Brumbies coach Stephen Larkham has recalled seven rested Wallabies as they look to claw back second spot.
“They’re nice and fresh … They’re very keen at the moment to get into it,” he said.
“It’s an exciting time for the boys to get out there and test themselves against a team that’s going to go deep into the finals.”
A point ahead of the Brumbies, the Crusaders are dealing with a prop crisis after loosehead Joe Moody joined George Bower and Fletcher Newell on the sidelines following season-ending ankle surgery.
That may give some encouragement to the sixth-placed New South Wales Waratahs as they look to end a 10-match losing streak at the Crusaders when they meet in Christchurch on Saturday.
However, Scott Robertson’s Crusaders have plenty of reinforcements elsewhere, with lock Sam Whitelock back from injury and playmaker Richie Mo’unga among a slew of rested All Blacks returning to action.
The contentious policy of resting test players ahead of the World Cup has overshadowed the competition and may have hurt the fifth-placed Hurricanes’ chances of securing a home quarter-final when they lost away to the Chiefs last week.
However, the Hurricanes can snatch back fourth spot with victory away to the fourth placed Blues and have bolstered their matchday squad with refreshed captain Ardie Savea and Jordie Barrett.
Beneath the Waratahs, five teams are jostling for the last two spots in the top eight for a quarter-final berth.
The seventh-placed Queensland Reds can seal their place in the playoffs with victory away to the Highlanders (ninth) in Dunedin on Friday. The Highlanders must win to keep their slim playoff chances alive.
Force (eighth) would be delighted with a Reds win as they could then seal their own quarter-final with victory away to the Melbourne Rebels.
Fijian Drua (10th) will hope at least one of the Force or Reds lose so they can keep their playoffs hopes intact by beating Moana Pasifika at home in Lautoka on Saturday.
The Rebels, a point behind the Drua, need victory over the Force to stave off elimination for at least a week.