Super Rugby’s 2017 winner will be the Lions or the Crusaders.
The Hurricanes and Highlanders should make up the final four but home ground advantage will determine which of the two teams plays in the final.
And whoever hosts the final will win it, with this weekend’s final round of matches to determine the overall league winner as one of the Crusaders or Lions.
The Crusaders have to beat the Hurricanes in Welllington to finish first and the Lions have the easier task of winning against the Sharks in Durban.
The season’s two best teams have without doubt been the Crusaders and the Lions.
The two have combined for 27 league wins. This is the equal of the combined tally of the teams ranked 11 to 18, which includes the South African trio of Kings (6), Bulls (4) and Cheetahs (3).
The Kings have exceeded expectation in winning six matches but they didn’t have to play a Kiwi franchise. For all the euphoria they have still managed just 27 league points.
The Bulls and Cheetahs have been the biggest under performers in South Africa, with a combined seven wins from 28 matches.
The Stormers and Brumbies are 2017 Super Rugby Conference winners but neither ranks in the overall top six.
Both teams will host quarterfinal matches against New Zealand opposition who all won more matches in the league this season.
The mess that has been Super 18 can’t end soon enough and next year’s reduced Super 15 will be fairer and more appropriate in terms of reward for winning.
New Zealand’s league dominance will be reflected in having four of their five franchises play in the quarterfinals. South Africa, because of the split African Conference system, will host two quarterfinals in Cape Town and Johannesburg.
Super Rugby 2017 (points after 14 matches)
- Crusaders 63
- Lions 61
- Canes 54
- Chiefs 53
- Highlanders 46
- Sharks 42
- Stormers 39
- Blues 37
- Brumbies 34
- Jaguares 29
- Kings 27
- Force 21
- Reds 21
- Bulls 20
- Waratahs 19
- Cheetahs 17
- Rebels 8
- Sunwolves 7