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Favourable run-in for SA Super 14 teams

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The two South African franchises who still have a chance to make it to the Super 14 semifinals, the Sharks and the Stormers, have reasonably favourable fixtures ahead in their last four matches.


The Sharks still have to play log leaders Crusaders in Christchurch, and their match against the Waratahs in Sydney this weekend is of vital importance to both the sides.


A win in Sydney should see the Sharks – at home for their last two fixtures against the Cheetahs and Chiefs – well placed for a semifinal.


But it’s Rassie Erasmus and his Stormers who must be really excited about their semifinal prospects.


They have three matches at home, against the Highlanders, Brumbies and Waratahs and only the Lions at Ellis Park as an away match.


With four matches remaining for all the sides except the Bulls and the Reds, anyone of nine teams can mathematically still win the 2008 Super 14 competition, although it will take a string of unlikely results to see the Western Force qualify.


The other eight sides will have realistic expectations of qualifying. Crusaders, on 38 points, can make sure of a semifinal by winning only two of their remaining four matches, one with a bonus point, which will take them to 47 points.


The Stormers and Chiefs (both on 27 points), even if they take maximum points in all four their remaining matches, will then not be able to top Crusaders whose huge points difference will see them through.


However, the Crusaders can be overtaken, if the third and fourth sides, the Sharks and Waratahs achieve nine points in their remaining four games and could still end on 52 and 51 points respectively, should they win all their matches.


However as the two sides must still play each other both cannot score full points in their remaining matches.


The Sharks and Waratahs meet this weekend, and for the loser there is the reality they will probably be overtaken by the Stormers who play the struggling Highlanders at Newlands on Saturday.


The Hurricanes, with a five-pointer in the next round, can also draw level with the Waratahs if the latter falter against the Sharks and don’t add to their log points.


The Blues play Crusaders. If they lose, the Auckland side will be just about out of it, as will the Brumbies who take on the Lions in Canberra.


These two sides will then have to rely on others to see them go through.


The reality for the sides still challenging for a semifinal spot is the Waratahs, after their match against the Sharks, are away to the Bulls, Stormers and Reds; the much-improved Chiefs have the Reds as their only remaining home match, while the Hurricanes have away matches against the Cheetahs and the Blues.


The Brumbies’ remain in the hunt after their gutsy win over the Sharks.


They should beat the Lions this weekend before they have to pursue their semifinal dream with away matches against the Stormers, Bulls and Force.


The following are the matches to be played by all the sides in the last four rounds:


Crusaders: Blues (home), Sharks (home), Reds (away), Highlanders (home)


Sharks: Waratahs (away), Crusaders (away), Cheetahs (home), Chiefs (home)


Waratahs: Sharks (home), Bulls (away), Stormers (away), Reds (away)


Stormers: Highlanders (home), Brumbies (home), Waratahs (home), Lions (away)


Chiefs : Reds (home), Force (away), Lions (away), Sharks (away)


Hurricanes: Cheetahs (away), Lions (home), Force (home), Blues (away)


Blues: Crusaders (away), Reds (away), Highlanders (away), Hurricanes (home)


Brumbies: Lions (home), Stormers (away), Bulls (away), Force (away)


Force: Bye, Chiefs (home), Hurricanes (away), Brumbies (home)


Reds: Chiefs (away), Blues (home), Crusaders (home), Waratahs (home)


Bulls: Bye, Waratahs (home), Brumbies (home), Cheetahs (away)


Highlanders: Stormers (away), Cheetahs (away), Blues (home), Crusaders (away)


Cheetahs: Hurricanes (home), Highlanders (home), Sharks (away), Bulls (home)


Lions: Brumbies (away), Hurricanes (away), Chiefs (home), Stormers (home)


Sapa – Super14.com   

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