CAPE TOWN – Sanzaar have thrown up some interesting possibilities for the semi-finals after confirming the Super Rugby playoff line-up on Sunday.
The Hurricanes’ 31-22 victory over the Crusaders has opened up the competition somewhat, and the Lions’ 27-10 win over the Sharks ensured that things worked out exactly how they wanted, with a home quarter-final for Johan Ackermann’s side and the Sharks staying in South Africa instead of undertaking a 24-hour trip to Christchurch.
But while we know what the quarter-final line-up is, let’s take a step forward and see what the last four might look like.
Sanzaar announced that the winner of quarter-final one will face the quarter-final four victors, and the other semi-final will be QF2 against QF3.
That means the Lions – most probably, as they should beat the Sharks at Ellis Park – will take on the winner of the Brumbies-Hurricanes game, likely the defending champions from Wellington.
But the other semi-final will be the winners of the Crusaders-Highlanders clash, and Stormers-Chiefs. So Robbie Fleck’s outfit may be facing a daunting trip to Christchurch, unless the Highlanders can produce an upset, which is entirely possible.
All roads, though, seemingly lead to Ellis Park, where the Lions are odds-on favourites to go one step further than last season.
But it won’t be easy, as they will probably face the Hurricanes in the semi-final and perhaps the Crusaders in the championship decider!
Super Rugby Quarter-Finals
QF1: Brumbies v Hurricanes (11.35am, Canberra).
QF2: Crusaders v Highlanders (9.35am, Christchurch).
QF3: Lions v Sharks (2.30pm, Ellis Park).
QF4: Stormers v Chiefs (5pm, Newlands).
SF1: Winner QF1 v Winner QF4.
SF2: Winner QF2 v Winner QF3.