Super 14 Rugby

Crusaders Stormers loss sets up interesting final weeks



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The Crusaders’ shock 28-17 loss to the Stormers has set up an intriguing final two rounds of rugby’s Super 14 competition, with five teams in contention for the semi-finals.

The Crusaders were unbeaten in 17 matches and now face the fifth-placed Bulls next week in Pretoria, with the home side desperate to ensure it remains in the hunt for the semi-finals.

The Bulls beat the sixth-placed Sharks 34-27 on Saturday and moved four points clear of their South African opponents to 33 points and just four points behind the fourth-placed Brumbies.

The Crusaders are second behind the Waratahs and they must win next Saturday to get back on track after drawing with the bottom-placed Western Force and then losing to the Stormers.

The Waratahs moved to the top of the table on 42 points with a 20-3 victory over the Otago Highlanders on Friday after they capitalised on Otago handling errors in atrocious conditions. A bonus point would have given them a much needed boost.

The Crusaders are also on 42 points, though the Waratahs have the better points differential.

The Brumbies ensured they kept their lead over the Bulls with an emphatic 36-0 victory over the struggling Queensland Reds.

The Hurricanes recovered from their 21-16 loss to the Brumbies last week to grind out a 35-10 victory over the Chiefs in Wellington keeping their semi-final hopes alive.

Interestingly the Crusaders still have to face two of their possible semi-final opponents in the coming weeks. The Bulls this week and the Brumbies next week. The Waratahs will face their possible semi-final opponents, the Hurricanes in Week 14.

In reality the only teams that can now earn a semi-final spot are Waratahs, Crusaders, Hurricanes, Brumbies and the Bulls. 

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