Playoff race heats up in SA Conference
Cape Town - After this past weekend's Super Rugby results, the South African Conference is heating up.
The Lions, despite a disappointing loss to the Reds in Brisbane, are comfortably on top of the Conference with 31 points from 10 matches. Swys de Bruin's men are also second on the overall log and looking good for a home run in the playoffs.
The surprise package of the Conference is Argentina's Jaguares, who secured their third win in a row in Australasia this past weekend when they edged the Blues 20-13.
That result has elevated the South Americans to 2nd in the SA Conference and 8th overall, meaning that they currently occupy the last quarter-final spot.
The Jaguares now have 20 points from 10 fixtures, though there are just two points separating them in second and the Sharks in 5th.
The Bulls are 3rd in the Conference with 20 points from 9 matches, the Stormers 4th with 18 points from 10 matches and the Sharks 5th with 18 points from 9 matches.
The three Conference winners all progress through to host quarter-finals while the other five playoff slots go to the teams that occupy 4th - 8th positions on the Combined log.
As it stands, the Bulls, Stormers and Sharks would all miss out on the playoffs, but there is still a long way to go in the round-robin stages.
It makes every weekend from now until the end of the group stages crucial, and the race for playoff places is now in full swing.
All of the teams in the SA Conference are in playoff contention, but there can be no more slip-ups moving forward.
There is a massive fixture at Newlands this Saturday, for example, when the Stormers host the Bulls.
Whoever wins that match could make significant strides in the Conference, with all of the Jaguares, Sharks and Lions up against New Zealand opposition.
The Jaguares are away to the Chiefs while the Sharks host the Highlanders.
The Lions, meanwhile, take on the Hurricanes in Wellington.
SA Conference standings:
1 Lions (31 pts, 10 matches - 2nd overall)
2 Jaguares (20 points, 10 matches - 8th overall)
3 Bulls (20 points, 9 matches - 9th overall)
4 Stormers (18 points, 10 matches - 10th overall)
5 Sharks (18 points, 9 matches - 11th overall)