Super Rugby finals race: What your team needs to do
WITH just two rounds to go, the Super Rugby finals race is heating up and there are three Australian teams in the mix.
The Waratahs took a huge step towards claiming a home final by beating the Rebels in one of the games of the season last weekend while the Brumbies kept their faint playoff hopes alive with a rousing upset of the Hurricanes.
Here's what the contending sides need to do to crack the playoffs in all three conferences.
1: Waratahs (39 points)
The run home: Sunwolves (home), Brumbies (home)
State of play: One win would guarantee them a finals spot.
Two wins would guarantee they topped the Australian conference and secure a home final.
Two bonus point wins would guarantee they finished second overall.
If the finals kicked off today: The Waratahs would host the Highlanders - who they beat in May to snap a horror 40 game losing streak for Australian sides against Kiwi opponents.
2: Rebels (35 points)
The run home: Reds (away), Highlanders (away)
State of play: Two wins would secure the Rebels' first ever finals berth.
The Melbourne club entered Super Rugby in 2011 and their best previous finish was 10th in 2015.
If the finals kicked off today: The Rebels would have a daunting trip across the Tasman to play the defending champion Crusaders in Christchurch.
3: Brumbies (29 points)
The run home: Chiefs (away), Waratahs (away)
State of play: The Brumbies haven't missed the finals since 2012 but the streak is in grave danger this season.
Dan McKellar's men need two wins (ideally with bonus points) and other results to go their way.
If the finals kicked off today: The Brumbies would be watching on tele and munching burgers at Ben Alexander's Canberra pub.
4: Reds (19 points)
The run home: Rebels (home), Sunwolves (home)
State of play: The Reds are out of finals reckoning but can play spoiler for the Rebels this weekend.
The Brumbies and Waratahs will be cheering them on.
If the finals kicked off today: Brad Thorn would be making his players run laps of Ballymore.
5: Sunwolves (14 points)
The run home: Waratahs (away), Reds (away)
State of play: Are on track for the wooden spoon and their final round clash with the Reds could potentially decide who claims that unwanted kitchen utensil.
If the finals kicked off today: The Sunwolves would be clinking small ceramic cups of sake with controversial former mascot Pinging at a dive bar in Roppongi.
NEW ZEALAND CONFERENCE
1: Crusaders (54 points)
The run home: Highlanders (home), Blues (home)
State of play: The defending champs are guaranteed a home quarterfinal.
Scott Robertson's troops only need to win one more game to finish first overall and secure home advantage for the entire finals.
If the finals kicked off today: The Crusaders would be hot favourites against the Rebels at a chilly AMI Stadium.
2: Hurricanes (45 points)
The run home: Blues (home), Chiefs (away)
State of play: The Canes are guaranteed a spot in the finals.
But, after peeling off 10 straight wins, Chris Boyd's mob have got the speed wobbles having lost their last three.
If the finals kicked off today: Would host the in form Chiefs at Westpac Stadium.
3: Chiefs (41 points)
The run home: Brumbies (home), Hurricanes (home)
State of play: Colin Cooper's men require just one bonus point to secure a finals spot.
It's a point they should have really got in their big win over the Highlanders in Suva but botched that opportunity by kicking a late penalty instead.
If the finals kicked off today: An away clash with the Hurricanes.
4: Highlanders (40 points)
The run home: Crusaders (away), Rebels (home)
State of play: The southern men need two bonus points (or one win) from their last two games to lock up a finals spot.
If the finals kicked off today: Would be playing the Waratahs in Sydney and seeking revenge for their round robin loss.
5: Blues (22 points)
The run home: Hurricanes (away), Crusaders (away)
State of play: Another dismal season for the Blues who are well out of finals contention and with two very tough games to come.
Coach Tana Umaga has somehow kept his job for another year though.
If the finals kicked off today: The Blues would be drowning their sorrows with a seaside sav on Waiheke Island.
SOUTH AFRICA CONFERENCE
1: Lions (41 points)
The run home: Bye, Bulls (home)
State of play: The Lions are clinging on to top spot in South Africa but have the bye this weekend and could be overtaken.
A bonus point against the Bulls would secure a finals berth.
If the finals kicked off today: The Lions would host the in form Jaguares at their Ellis Park lair.
2: Jaguares (38 points)
The run home: Bulls (away), Sharks (away)
State of play: Mario Ledesma's men are one of the hottest teams in Super Rugby as they ride a terrific seven game winning streak.
A home final is there for the taking but the conference is competitive and they still need to win their last two games to ensure a maiden playoff appearance.
If the finals kicked off today: A clash with the Lions in Johannesburg.
3: Sharks (32 points)
The run home: Stormers (away), Jaguares (home)
State of play: The Sharks are three points behind the Rebels, who currently hold eighth place overall and the final wildcard slot.
The men from Durban could potentially make the finals with just one more win but would need other results to go their way.
If the finals kicked off today: The Sharks would finish ninth overall and go in search of a mid winter surf.
4: Bulls (25 points)
The run home: Jaguares (home), Lions (away)
State of play: John Mitchell's mob are still mathematically alive, but would need two bonus point wins to be any chance of making the eight.
If the finals kicked off today: Season over, and time for some introspection at Pretoria's Voortrekker Monument.
5: Stormers (25 points)
The run home: Sharks (home), Bye
State of play: With just one game left, the Stormers are done and dusted.
If the finals kicked off today: Time to climb Table Mountain and dream of what might have been.