And with these last games to be played, 17 rounds of Super Rugby will be complete by Sunday. 15 matches will have been played, two bye rounds and come Sunday, results will have established who is top seed. With this weekends Super Rugby final round, the forecast will be for the leaders to show their credentials.
How teams get there, is always up to them. Bitter competition is what commentators demand, and for the most it is what fans have been delivered all season. None will be described as foretold. Some have come down to final minutes scoring opportunities. Only once [Lions v Sunwolves blowout] has there been a wholly one-sided fixture. Round 17 should be no different.
SANZAAR CEO Andy Marinos said, “We are in for another great weekend of rugby as we head towards the quarter-finals.
Results this weekend will determine who plays who in the quarter-finals.
“Who travels where and who potentially would get semi-final home advantage should they win their quarter-final.”
Super Rugby Final Round Forecast
Fans still see an evolution in the Super Rugby contest. While an element of change has been poorly received, the teams themselves still hold good support and even with the disruption of June Internationals and the Lions tour, matches still hold the attention.
By the end of last weekend, the finals series came a little bit more closer. Sides could not celebrate too early though, and with two results especially allowed new records to be created.
RD 16 of #SuperRugby concludes with upsets galore.
The Top 8 is set with finals seedings on the line in next week's round. pic.twitter.com/UpRgvp8egR
Who Did Well #1 – Jaguares
Yes, they have already fallen away from finals series qualification and to a degree, have disappointed fans and commentators. Yet it did not stop the Argentine side from showing ‘they still have teeth’ – chewing off an away win, their first ever in Sydney.
Who Did Well #2 – Southern Kings
This will not surprise readers of the Forecast. The recent escapades of the men from Nelson Mandela Bay should make their entire region proud. They have taken the news of being one of two African conference teams to be culled, with two valour. Using it as motivation, and gaining some wonderful victories in 2017–including a 30-31 win over the Bulls.
The period of non-participation from New Zealand teams has not been a cake-walk. If you ignored the basics, and took the eye off the ball, then you suffered. So Round 16 might have corrected any lackadaisical attitudes, before the serious business of the finals descends.
News: Western Force player Chance Peni-Ataera was handed down a three game suspension, for his dangerous tackle last week. He joins Sonny Bill Williams, Rynhard Elstadt and Hanco Venter as the most recent men to be reprimanded by SANZAAR.
Now, to look at the forecast ahead for Round 17. The official match packs from SANZAAR shows that nine games will be enjoyed across every conference. As some teams return to action[NZ] others will be wanting to make a last-dash effort for a good end to the year.
Super Rugby Round 17 Forecast
Friday July 14
Ready to kick-off this Friday night party, it is only fitting that it is the University town of Dunedin. With the extreme cold weather, home fans will be pleased that under the closed-in roof stadium, and their team will have every opportunity to entertain. The students and the families attending will want to take their mind off the bitterly cold weather–so a hot Super Rugby match is just what the doctor ordered.
Minus Aaron and Ben Smith, the home side could be limited but some returning forward power is just what Tony Brown ordered. He wants his side to join the finals series in form. The Queensland Reds are no easy beats, but as they did in New Plymouth, will probably go down swinging.
Melbourne Rebels v Jaguares is liable to repeat the visitors winning. Although, the steel that the Rebels have shown previously may give them a chance–it seems a good bet to see the Jags take a seventh win (more than the four of last season).
Southern Kings v Cheetahs – what unfortunate timing; for South African Rugby to confirm that these are the two sides who would be ‘culled’ from Super Rugby. The Kings have performed more than admirably since knowing they were a likely victim. Wins have come over many sides, with victory against the Cheetahs a distinct possibility.
Nevertheless, the Cheetahs are not going to simply ‘fall over’. A proud side, formed out of the Gauteng Cats; that history will surely support a better performance. A win? On the cards but Deon Davids will motivate his Kings to also ‘go out with a bang’!
Super Saturday July 15
With six quality matches to feast on, most Super Rugby fans will go from a famine, to a feast. This includes the New Zealand sides that were on hiatus–an unfortunate consequence of the much hyped and ultimately rewarding, British and Irish Lions tour. It did mean the likes of the Blues and Chiefs sat idle. You hope that they were doing more than watching the highlights.
Traveling to Tokyo, the Sunwolves are secure in any future Super Rugby layout but their form is in-determinant. One week they are beating the Bulls, the next round they allow the Lions to create a new Super Rugby losing record: 94-7.
While the Blues are hardly threatening that, but Tana Umaga has them in a confident mood. Only missing Rieko Ioane through illness, the side is might find the conditions to their advantage.
In Hamilton, the challenge is much tougher. Again, bolstered by returning stocks, the hosts will have two goals. (a) to Go Hard. The final regular season match under Dave Rennie, the management will want a top-class outing. And (b) to keep the Australian conference leaders down.
A Chiefs v Brumbies clash should be the top-of-the-table, and it will have much of the same intensity–although the 5:15pm start is great for punters, most know there is a ‘feature match’ to follow.
‘Match of the Round’
For any wise rugby fan, they will set their alarm. When this Hurricanes v Crusaders fixture was planned to wrap-up the New Zealand conference, the organizers must have given themselves a fist-pump! Great call, and this should be a great match.
Returning All Blacks give the game the finesse, but it really comes down to how the ‘grafters’ perform. Men like Ricky Riccitelli, Matt Proctor, Josh Goodhew and Jed Brown. Men who will play for their jersey. Play with conviction, and often do great jobs in the place of injured All Blacks or more will known men.
Again, Dane Coles is held back, so Riccitelli gains another start. The way the Chris Boyd coached team has pulled together is a credit to the organization. But with All Blacks included, it will add plenty to the Super Rugby Final Round.
The last encounter was a superb piece of execution from the Crusaders. They held the ‘Canes tryless [like the Lions v All Blacks in Wellington]. So the visitors may think they have some advantage. That maybe more hearsay, but rugby is often about confidence and statistics. Used often to good effect.
With the Western Force v Waratahs clash, it will be hard to go past the local team. Why? Well, if the ‘Tahs have lost to the Jaguares and Kings, then it is highly probable. And in this second fixture, the Force will hope to repair the first games result: 19-13 in Sydney.
Pride, Local Derby Games and a Home Quarter Final
Two teams who will sadly be just playing for pride only, are the Bulls and the Stormers. By their own hands though, they will progress no further. Still, a large majority of the men in this local derby match will be free to focus on future Rugby Championship matches–so there is one bonus in not being in the finals series.
The last match of the 2017 regular season, will affect one, or both of the contestants significantly. The Sharks v Lions fixture is still a worthy local derby game. So no matter the facts of bonus points or even securing the conference trophy two weeks out, the fans will surely let their voices be heard in Durban.
Even as incoming head coach Swys de Bruin was named the successor to Johan Ackerman, the 2016 runners-up still have a job to do. His men went close to, but miscalculated the last round [lost to the Jaguares]. That must not happen again, and the Sharks will be well pleased if they can contribute to more ‘bad memories’.
After this Super Rugby final round is complete, that is ‘all she wrote’. If all goes to plan, the sides that have appeared the strongest, will take their places. Although nothing is certain. You can be sure that the home quarter finalists will each still have their work cut out for them….no matter who they face!
This Week In Rugby History
The first meeting of South Africa and Australia took place at Newlands in Cape Town and was on by the home side 17-3.
A virtuoso try from scrum-half Ricky Januarie deep into the second half, followed by some heroic 14-man defence saw South Africa to a famous 30-28 victory over New Zealand in Dunedin
The Reds claimed their first Super Rugby title by defeating the Crusaders 18-13 at the Suncorp Stadium in Brisbane. The two sides were tied at 13 points apiece with just 12 minutes to go when Will Genia dived over for the hosts after a stunning break from inside his own half.
The ‘Week in Rugby History’ is sourced from the ESPN UK ‘on this day’ webpage.
“Main photo credit”