Last Super Rugby Pacifc round to determine finals next week

By Mana Wikaire-Lewis

It's the Super Rugby Pacific teams' last chance to make the finals of the competition next week.

To kick off the round 15 matches are the Crusaders (10 wins, 3 losses) and the Queensland Reds (8 wins, 5 losses). Though the Reds are seventh in the standings, the competition points difference between them and the eighth-placed Highlanders won't see them out of the playoffs if they lose tonight.

The Crusaders are comfortably second but a victory tonight will keep their three-game win streak going (last week they crushed the Fijian Drua 61-3) with lots of momentum for the playoffs. The Crusaders, led by Scott Barrett, will have the home advantage at OrangeTheory Stadium in Ōtautahi, with kick-off at 7:35pm tonight.

Red & Black vs Red. Credit: Facebook / Crusaders.

Super Saturday, appropriately named, has four times the Super Rugby action. To begin at 3pm, the Fijian Drua will have their last home game in Lautoka, hosting the Chiefs in Fiji.

Having only won two and lost 11 games in Super Rugby Pacific, the Drua (ranked 11th) are unable to make the finals but will be sure to stop the Chiefs' momentum to stay in the top four and hopefully notch their first win on home soil. A win for the Chiefs may have them stay in the top four should the teams below them do less. 

Next, in their third game in just over a week, 12th-placed Moana Pasifika will take on the third-placed Brumbies in Auckland from 7:05pm. Should the Brumbies win and stay in the top four, it will lock in a home final for the playoffs, most likely against an Aussie rival team.

Their first seasons of Super Rugby haven't been the best but the proud Moana Pasifika team won't give up as they look to end the competition on a high.

Hard mahi

Then, at 9:45pm it's blue vs blue when the NSW Waratahs host the top team Auckland Blues. Having escaped last week's Brumbies match with a drop goal from Beauden Barrett's golden boot to record a 12th-straight win, the Blues will be looking for 13 and to end the round-robin with dominance. If the sixth-placed Warratahs win, that could mean a jump in the standings as four points separate them from the Hurricanes fifth) and Chiefs (fourth) and see them as the rock in the Blues' road to 13.

Speaking of the Hurricanes, the last Saturday game at midnight has the Western Force host the Wellington club in Perth. The Force (ninth) are in desperation mode for a victory to keep playoff hopes alive, with three points in difference from the Highlanders (22 points, eighth). Wellington's elite winning and crushing the Force's playoff dreams could mean a top-four finish heading into next week.

Lastly, the Melbourne Rebels will play the Highlanders at their home grounds of AAMI Park, the home shared with the NRL's Melbourne Storm. Unlike their Storm rugby league brethren who have nine wins and three losses in the NRL, the Rebels (10th) have three wins and 10 losses for Super Rugby Pacific 2022. If the Rebels snatch the victory, however, they'll be spoiling the Highlanders' final hopes and will push the Force into eighth place. The Highlanders, co-captained by Aaron Smith and James Lentjes, are in do-or-die mode to stay in the top eight.