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    Super Rugby final at Ellis Park?

    2016-07-04 08:53

    Lloyd Burnard - Sport24

    Cape Town - There is still a lot of rugby to be played, but the Lions' bid to go all the way in Super Rugby is gaining serious momentum. 

    Saturday's ruthless 37-10 win over the Sharks in Johannesburg ensured that Johan Ackermann's men moved to the top of the overall tournament log after the Crusaders slipped up against the Chiefs on Friday. 

    The overall log might not seem that important on the surface - the playoff places are determined by Conference winners and Group positions - but it does dictate the seeding of the quarter-finalists and who hosts knockout matches. 

    There are just two rounds of group stage matches remaining, and the Lions can secure top spot on the overall log with a strong finish. 

    It is tight, though. 

    The Lions are just a single point ahead of the Chiefs, two ahead of the Crusaders, three ahead of the Hurricanes and four ahead of the Highlanders. 

    Any of those sides can still mathematically overtake the Lions, even if the Jo'burgers pick up five points as expected against the Kings in Johannesburg this weekend.

    A tricky trip to Argentina awaits the Lions on the final weekend, and that is likely to be the match that determines whether or not they finish top overall.

    That honour would ensure that the Lions would host the Super Rugby final should they get that far.  

    Securing a bonus-point win in Argentina is a big ask, but if they did then top spot would be guaranteed (if they pick up maximum points against the Kings).

    But even a win of any kind against the Jaguares is likely to be enough. 

    That would leave the Lions with nine points from their final two matches, and only the Chiefs would be able to overtake them with two bonus-point wins. 

    The New Zealand Conference leaders are away for their remaining two matches - first at the Reds and then at the Highlanders. 

    As it stands now, the Lions would host the Sharks in the Super Rugby quarter-finals. 

    If the Lions do top the overall log in two weeks' time, then that fixture does appear likely as the Sharks are unlikely to overtake any of the wildcard teams who qualify via the Australasian Group.

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    Fixtures

    Saturday, 17 February 2018
    • Stormers v Jaguares, Cape Town 15:05
    • Lions v Sharks, Emirates Airlines Park 17:15
    Friday, 23 February 2018
    • Highlanders v Blues, 08:35
    • Rebels v Reds, AAMI Park 10:45
    Saturday, 24 February 2018
    • Sunwolves v Brumbies, Prince Chichibu Memorial Stadium 06:15
    • Crusaders v Chiefs, 08:35
    • Waratahs v Stormers, Allianz Stadium 10:45
    • Lions v Jaguares, Emirates Airlines Park 15:05
    • Bulls v Hurricanes, Loftus Versfeld 17:15

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