The Lions are the overall Super Rugby League winners and if successful in the play-offs will host the final.
The Lions edged the Crusaders by two league points after the Kiwis were beaten 31-22 in Wellington by rivals the Hurricanes.
The Crusaders defeat, coupled with the Lions 27-10 win against the Sharks in Durban, ensured the Lions went one better than in 2016 when they ended second in the overall table.
The Lions in 2016 comfortably beat the Highlanders and Crusaders at home in the quarter-final and semi-final respectively but lost 20-3 in the final against the Hurricanes played in Wellington.
The Canes had also beaten the Lions in Johannesburg during the league season.
Both the Lions and Crusaders only lost one league match but the Lions benefitted from an easier schedule in not having to play any of the Kiwi sides. A year ago they played all the Kiwi sides once and finished second.
Few would begrudge them the honour of a first place league finish. They have played brilliant rugby all season and have the best attacking and defensive record in Super Rugby this season. They have also scored the most points and conceded the least.
The Sharks were in a no win situation in Durban. If they beat the Lions it would have meant the Crusaders finishing first. The upshot of this would have been a Sharks away quarter-final in Christchurch, New Zealand. Now they travel to Johannesburg to play the Lions in the quarter-final. Be assured the Sharks will pose more of a challenge in the play-offs than in Durban.
The Lions were emphatic winners and the Sharks never threatened to take control of the match. It was very one-sided and the form team in South Africa predictably dominated.
The Stormers triumphed 41-33 against the Bulls in an entertaining match that lacked any sort of mongrel or intensity. The match had a Barbarians-type feel about it with the Bulls not in the play-offs and the Stormers already guaranteed a home quarter-final.
On Friday evening in Port Elizabeth the Cheetahs and Kings bowed out of Super Rugby with the visitors winning 21-20 after trailing 20-6 with twenty minutes left.
Both franchises will play in the Northern Hemisphere’s Pro 14, which is an expansion of the original Pro 12. The four Irish provinces, two Scottish franchises, four Welsh franchises and two Italian clubs made up the Pro 12.
Super Rugby quarter-finals (home team first)
Super Rugby quarter-finals:
Friday, July 21
Brumbies v Hurricanes, Canberra – 11:00 (SA time)
Saturday, July 22
Crusaders v Highlanders, Christchurch – 09:00 (SA time)
Lions v Sharks, Johannesburg – 14:00
Stormers v Chiefs, Cape Town – 16:30