Super Rugby Review: Week 15

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Lynn McConnell     27 May 2018     Getty Images

The Crusaders made it one each, both teams winning their home games against the other, making the contest for top finishing spot vital to staging the final on their home turf when winning 24-13 in Christchurch.

If the quarterfinals were played this weekend they would see: Crusaders v Rebels, Hurricanes v Chiefs, Lions v Jaguares, Waratahs v Highlanders.

New Zealand Conference
The Crusaders produced a fine demonstration of why they are the competition front runners in wet conditions in Christchurch to subdue a Hurricanes side that had been carrying all before them but who were unable to match the home side's tenacity in their 24-13 win.

Pouring on the pace from the outset, the Chiefs remained calm as the Waratahs got out to a 14-0 lead to come home much the stronger in claiming a 39-27 win in Hamilton, again in wet conditions on Saturday.

The Highlanders took a less experienced unit into their game with the Reds and while that could have been costly, the introduction from the bench of some of their harder hitters played into their hands and the Reds were forced to spend much of the second half keeping waves of Highlanders assaults out. There were only three points in at the end but in reality the margin was wider than the score suggested.

Australia Conference
The Rebels remain in the playoffs hunt with their 40-13 win over the Sunwolves, a result that leaves them only one point behind the Waratahs and 10 points clear of the chasing pack in the Australia Conference. Rebels left wing Marika Koroibete completed a hat-trick of tries while fellow wing Jack Maddocks crossed twice.

The Waratahs became the latest side to run into a Chiefs team which refuses to succumb to the loss of key players to injury. Playing a masterly tactical game in the conditions by kicking either to the corners or deep, whether through the boots of first five-eighths Damian McKenzie, second five-eighths Charlie Ngatai or halfback Brad Weber, the Chiefs dictated the game for a 39-27 win.

It was a close go in Brisbane but the Reds, who started well, were unable to maintain their momentum, especially when the Highlanders' defence kicked in and in the end a dominating second half was sufficient for the New Zealanders to complete their win.

The Brumbies frustrated the Bulls in Pretoria, not only coming from behind for a 38-28 win but doing it with 14 men for the last 20 minutes. Folau Fainga'a, who had just scored a key try was the guilty party, sent off for head-butting Matthys Basson who was making his debut when coming on as a replacement. The Brumbies scored two further tries after Fainga'a's banishment.

Africa Conference
The Bulls' loss leaves them out of the hunt for a playoffs place and in danger of finishing last in the Africa Conference. The Stormers were unable to match the Brumbies' feat in winning with 14 men. The Stormers lost wing Raymond Rhule for taking a player out in the air when 30 minutes of the game remained. The Stormers had led 17-7 at halftime but once Rhule departed the Lions pounced scoring one try, and then a second when Jaco Coetzee was yellow-carded for a late hit on Elton Jantjies. The Lions ensured the 26-23 win with a 74th minute try.

Becoming the sixth consecutive victims of the Jaguares with a 13-29 loss in Buenos Aires, the Sharks are struggling to be in the hunt for a playoffs place. The Jaguares continued their impressive form and outscored the shares four tries to won with wing Ramiro Moyano completing a hat-trick of tries.

If the playoffs were to be played today based on the current standings, the Crusaders would host the Rebels, the Hurricanes would host the Chiefs, the Lions would host the Jaguares and the Waratahs would host the Highlanders.