Stormers to face Chiefs or Hurricanes in QFs
Cape Town - The Stormers will host a Super Rugby quarter-final at Newlands after claiming the Africa Conference One title, with their opponents to be decided in the final round of the regular season this weekend.
With a second consecutive Africa Conference One trophy and a third straight home quarter-final at Newlands secured, the Stormers will head into the playoffs ranked third and will play the team that finishes the final round ranked sixth - which will be either the Hurricanes or the Chiefs.
Both the Hurricanes and the Chiefs play early on Saturday, with the team that ends with the fewest log points between them set to make the trip to Cape Town for a quarter-final the following week.
That means that the Stormers will know who their quarterfinal opponents will be before their final league fixture kicks off against the Bulls at Loftus Versfeld on Saturday.
The Chiefs host the Brumbies in Hamilton first and could move past the Hurricanes if they win. The Hurricanes host the Crusaders in Wellington in the following game, with the outcome of that game set to decide the Stormers’ quarter-final opposition.
With all 18 teams in action in Round 17 the final positions of the eight quarter-finalists will be determined by the outcome of several games.
The four Conference winners will be ranked 1-4 based on their final number of tournament points and the wild card teams will be ranked 5-8 based on their final number of tournament points.
The Crusaders (currently ranked first) are away to the Hurricanes (currently ranked fifth) with the reigning champions keen to maintain their ranking. A Crusaders win will put them first for the quarter-finals regardless of the outcome between the Sharks and Lions. The Chiefs (currently ranked six) host the Australian Conference winners, the Brumbies, but could finish fifth if they win and the Hurricanes stumble.
The Highlanders lie in seventh spot and play the Reds and the South Island side will be eager to hold on to their ranking for the finals. If they stumble, and the Sharks beat the Lions with a bonus point, they could finish seventh and the Highlanders eighth.
The Stormers are away to the Bulls but have already secured the third ranking ahead of the Australian Conference winners the Brumbies - based on the fact they have won more matches should they lose to the Bulls and Brumbies win with a bonus point against the Chiefs.
"We are in for another great weekend of rugby as we head towards the quarter-finals," SANZAAR CEO Andy Marinos said.
"Results this weekend will determine who plays who in the quarterfinals, who travels where and who potentially would get semifinal home advantage should they win their quarter-final.
"While we know the eight quarter-finalists it is fantastic that the final rankings will be determined by the results of the last regular round of matches and indeed may be determined by the very last match. So it is all to play for this weekend as the finalists from Australia, New Zealand and South Africa do battle to improve their rankings and finals positions."
Super Rugby quarter-final draw:
QF1: 1 (Crusaders/Lions) v 8 (Sharks/Highlanders)
QF2: 2 (Crusaders/Lions) v 7 (Sharks/Highlanders)
QF3: 3 (Stormers) v 6 (Chiefs/Hurricanes)
QF4: 4 (Brumbies) v 5 (Chiefs/Hurricanes)