Road to the Finals: Each Super Rugby Pacific side’s playoff permutations after Round 12

Tue, May 14, 2024, 4:39 AM
Nathan Williamson
by Nathan Williamson

With just three games remaining in the regular season, every position is still up for grabs heading into the Super Rugby Pacific finals.

A lot has been made about the finals structure but it has essentially ensured every game has significant meaning heading into the business end of the season.

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Three teams can still claim the minor premiership and potential home Final advantage.

Meanwhile, up to seven teams are fighting for finals positions, with a number of them facing each other in what could be finals eliminators.

Rugby.com.au breaks down the situation for all 12 teams.

1st - Blues (45 points)

v Highlanders, at Crusaders, v Chiefs

The Blues vaulted themselves into top position with their tough win over the Hurricanes.

They'll back themselves to maintain their position for this weekend against the Highlanders, who they've dominated in previous match-ups.

The Crusaders and Chiefs will be real tests in the final fortnight, especially the defending champions at home if they are still alive in finals contention.

2nd - Hurricanes (43)

v Moana Pasifika, at Chiefs, v Highlanders

On the flip side, the Hurricanes are suddenly the hunters after starting the year with eight straight wins.

Like the Blues, they face two sides in the bottom half but both in Wellington which is a major boost.

The Chiefs are the danger side, who can jump the Hurricanes into the top two with a bonus point win in Round 14.

3rd - ACT Brumbies (39)

v Crusaders, v Rebels, at Force

The Brumbies have been quietly building and suddenly find themselves hunting a home Final.

The sixth-place Rebels are the highest team they face on the ladder but the Brumbies have found themselves guilty of dropping big games late in the season to deny themselves peak position on the ladder, with both the Blues and Hurricanes facing top-four opposition.

This week's clash against the Crusaders is a really dangerous game whilst the final match of the year against the Force could be a finals decider for the team in the west

4th - Chiefs (38)

at Rebels, v Hurricanes, at Blues

The Chiefs' run home is the toughest any Super Rugby team faces to finish the season.

Facing the top two sides in the competition will provide a real test of where they sit in terms of finals contention, with the sixth-placed Rebels no easy beats.

They could secure a home semi-final but could drop out of the top four altogether if they can string wins together.

5th - Queensland Reds (31)

at Drua, v Force, at Waratahs

The Reds will be hoping for results to go their way to secure a home quarter-final.

They're facing a comparatively easier run home than the Chiefs, although a trip to Suva to face the Drua is never easier.

They'll need to win at least two of their games and hope the Chiefs can drop their games against the top two sides.

6th - Melbourne Rebels (25)

v Chiefs, at Brumbies, at Drua

The Rebels control their own destiny but face a tough trio of games to finish the year.

25 points was enough to get into finals the past two years but the competitiveness of this year's competition may mean they need one more win to be secured.

This could leave a difficult trip to Fiji in the final round against the Drua, who are playing for their own finals hopes.

7th - Highlanders (23)

at Blues, Drua, at Hurricanes

Their breakthrough win over the Crusaders made a tough run home for the Highlanders significantly easier.

Their round 14 match against the Drua will likely decide their finals hopes with a host of teams in the chasing pack facing each other.

If they can't defeat them or either of the top sides, the Highlanders may be reliant on results to go their way

8th - Fijian Drua (17)

v Reds, at Highlanders, v Rebels

The Drua will back themselves with two home games in the final three rounds.

They have proven tough to defeat in Fiji, especially in Lautoka, where they host the Rebels in the final round.

Mick Byrne's side will be hoping to nab a scalp against the Reds or Highlanders to ease their nerves.

9th - Western Force (15)

v Waratahs, at Reds, v Brumbies

Likewise with the Drua, a favourable run of games late at home have the Force's confidence sky high for the final rounds.

The win over the Fijians was huge in regards to their season and they face a similar must-win game against the Waratahs.

Even with victory over the NSW side, they still will likely need a result against one of the top Australian sides.

10th - Moana Pasifika (14)

at Hurricanes, v Waratahs, at Crusaders

Moana Pasifika will have a free swing against the Hurricanes before back-to-back must-win games against the Waratahs and Crusaders.

They famously ended Michael Hooper's Waratahs career with defeat last season and need to back it up next weekend to keep their dreams alive of a maiden finals berth.

However, the task of needing victory against the Crusaders to finish the season is a herculean task.

11th - Crusaders (14)

at Brumbies, v Blues, v Moana Pasifika

This is foreign territory for the defending champions, who potentially need victories from all three games to get the chance to defend their title

It starts with the Brumbies in Canberra, who are unbeaten at home in 2024 before a 2022 Final rematch against the Blues.

They'll be favourites to defeat Moana Pasifika, but it could be all over then if they can't start to put wins together.

12th - Waratahs (12)

at Force, at Moana Pasifika, v Reds

It's a weird situation for the Waratahs to be on the bottom of the ladder yet with a real chance to be playing finals football

They face two finals contenders away from home before returning home to face a Reds outfit whose position may already be secured if the Chiefs win two straight games.

It'd be a stunning rise for the Waratahs, who are in injury hell after losing yet another front-rower.

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