The Canadian Press - ONLINE EDITION

5 things to know about Super Rugby round 15

  • Print

WELLINGTON, New Zealand - With five regular season rounds remaining in Super Rugby, very little is certain about the outcome of the playoffs race.

South Africa's Sharks remain top of the table after last weekend's courageous win over the Crusaders and could take a giant step toward a home semifinal with a win Friday over the Auckland-based Blues.

The ACT Brumbies face one of the toughest tasks, to beat the Bulls in Pretoria, if they are to see off the challenge of the New South Wales Waratahs to their top placing in the Australian conference. The Waratahs, one point behind the Brumbies, face the Rebels in Melbourne.

The Chiefs will defend first place in the New Zealand conference when they face the Hurricanes in Hamilton and will snuff out the Hurricanes' playoff hopes if they win. The Highlanders and Crusaders, who meet in Christchurch on Saturday, are both in a position to move ahead of the Chiefs if the defending champions slip up.

Five things to know about round 15:

CRUSADERS CRAVE CREDIBILITY — The Crusaders are determined to show last week's loss to the 14-man Sharks was an "anomaly" when they play the Highlanders in Dunedin on Saturday. The Sharks played with 14 men for 64 minutes after the sending-off of flanker Jean Deysel, who has been banned for three weeks for stomping, and with 13 men for 10 minutes of the second half but still managed to win 30-25. The Crusaders' inability to tactically adapt to playing weakened opposition has damaged the credibility of their challenge for this season's title. Coach Todd Blackadder said the Crusaders had to prove against the Highlanders that the setback against the Sharks is not terminal.

READ STILL NOT RIGHT — The anticipated return to Super Rugby of All Blacks backrower and sometime captain Kieran Read has been further delayed. Read was expected to rejoin the Crusaders for Saturday's match against the Highlanders after being sidelined for three matches by his second concussion of the season. The Crusaders say Read is no longer showing symptoms of concussion but is now affected by flu and a sinus infection which has prevented him taking part in contact training. Read is now expected to return in the Crusaders' May 30 match against the Rebels in Melbourne.

RESURGENT REBELS WORRY WARATAHS — The New South Wales Waratahs were the big improvers in last weekend's 14th round, rising to fourth with a 41-13 win over South Africa's Lions. But they are quick to admit apprehension about Friday's clash in Melbourne with the Rebels, who will be buoyed by last week's 30-27 win over the Queensland Reds. Waratahs halfback Nick Phipps was in the Rebels team which beat the Waratahs 24-22 on this weekend a year ago and knows they are capable of another upset. "They would be targeting this one... they'll be looking to try to string two together," Phipps said.

WHITE DEFENDS SHARK ATTACK — Sharks coach Jake White admits his team's hermetic defence will again be critical when it tries to protect its five-point lead in Friday's match against the Auckland-based Blues. But White doesn't accept criticism that the Sharks are solely a defensive side and have made an art of winning ugly. "We are going to have to defend. I don't think (the Blues) will kick as much as the Crusaders did," White said. "They'll definitely try to run it back and they've got some dangerous outside backs. But in saying that we need to make sure the rest of our game is good enough as well. "

HARD ASK FOR THE HURRICANES — The Hurricanes accept they have to win their last four regular season matches, beginning on Saturday against defending champion the Chiefs, to have any chance of reaching the playoffs. Last weekend's one-point loss to the Highlanders was a real blow and the task has been made harder by losing All Blacks flyhalf Beauden Barrett to a hip injury. Assistant coach Alama Ieremia admitted the Hurricanes can't afford another loss. "We'll take things week by week, but it's almost like the knockout stages of a World Cup now: lose and you're gone," Ieramia said.

Fact Check

Fact Check

Have you found an error, or know of something we’ve missed in one of our stories?
Please use the form below and let us know.

* Required
  • Please post the headline of the story or the title of the video with the error.

  • Please post exactly what was wrong with the story.

  • Please indicate your source for the correct information.

  • Yes

    No

  • This will only be used to contact you if we have a question about your submission, it will not be used to identify you or be published.

  • Cancel

Having problems with the form?

Contact Us Directly
  • Print

You can comment on most stories on winnipegfreepress.com. You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

You can comment on most stories on winnipegfreepress.com. You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

Have Your Say

New to commenting? Check out our Frequently Asked Questions.

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscribers only. why?

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press Subscribers only. why?

The Winnipeg Free Press does not necessarily endorse any of the views posted. By submitting your comment, you agree to our Terms and Conditions. These terms were revised effective April 16, 2010.

letters

Make text: Larger | Smaller

LATEST VIDEO

Glenn January won't blame offensive line for first loss

View more like this

Photo Store Gallery

  • Two baby tigers were unveiled at the Assiniboine Park Zoo this morning, October 3rd, 2011. (TREVOR HAGAN/WINNIPEG FREE PRESS)
  • Susan and Gary Harrisonwalk their dog Emma on a peaceful foggy morning in Assiniboine Park – Standup photo– November 27, 2011   (JOE BRYKSA / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS)

View More Gallery Photos

Poll

How surpised are you by the Bombers’ 4-1 start to the season?

View Results

Ads by Google