The Canadian Press - ONLINE EDITION

Super Rugby playoffs race heats up as competition resumes after June tests

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WELLINGTON, New Zealand - The race for playoffs places in Super Rugby enters the final stretch on Friday with success likely to go to teams that recover from the June test-series layoff.

Three rounds remain in the regular season, beginning with this weekend's round for Australian and New Zealand teams only, and 10 teams are in contention for six playoffs spots, although the claims of the lowest-placed teams are now tenuous.

South Africa's Sharks lead the tournament with 45 points from the New South Wales Waratahs with 43 and the Christchurch-based Crusaders with 41, but the Durban-based Sharks have two matches left while the Waratahs and Crusaders have three.

The ACT Brumbies, Dunedin-based Highlanders and Wellington-based Hurricanes hold the next three spots, under pressure from the Western Force, Chiefs, Bulls and Blues.

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