Aussie Super Rugby clubs learn their finals fate

Aussie Super Rugby clubs learn their finals fate

Australia will field three teams in the Super Rugby Pacific quarter-finals after the regular season reached a thrilling round 15 conclusion on Saturday night.

The third placed Brumbies are again Australia’s leading light and will host the sixth placed Highlanders in Canberra next Saturday (7.35pm kickoff AEST).

The fifth placed Reds will travel to Hamilton to take on the fourth placed Chiefs on Friday (5.05pm kickoff AEST) while the eighth placed Rebels will face the minor premier Hurricanes in Wellington on Saturday (2.35pm kickoff AEST).

Watch all the action from the 2024 Super Rugby Pacific season with every match ad free, live and on demand on Stan Sport

The second placed Blues will host the seventh placed Drua in Auckland on Saturday (5.05pm kickoff AEST) after they were denied a bonus point by the Chiefs in a “breathtaking” finish at Eden Park in the final round.

Australia has not won a Super Rugby title since the Waratahs in 2014.

The seven time defending champion Crusaders were the big losers in the last, hectic scramble for playoff places, missing out on the quarter-finals for the first time in a decade.

READ MORE: Waratahs coach’s classy interview after losing job

READ MORE: Legal threat after Rebels axing from Super Rugby

READ MORE: Horan reveals where he’d put homeless Wallabies

The Crusaders won their last regular season match 43-10 against Moana Pasifika on Friday to move inside the top eight playoff zone for the first time this season.

But they were shuffled back to ninth place when the Drua took a bonus point from a 40-19 win over the Rebels in Lautoka on Saturday.

The Drua moved up to seventh, reaching the quarter-finals for the second consecutive year, and the Rebels held on to eighth to qualify for the playoffs for the first time in their 14 year history.

But there was a sombre note to the achievement after Rugby Australia announced on Thursday that it will not renew the Rebels’ licence to play in Super Rugby next season because of financial instability.

Saturday’s match was the Rebels’ last regular season match in Super Rugby and the club will cease to exist as soon as their playoff run ends.

The Crusaders needed the Rebels to beat or draw to progress to the playoffs themselves.

NEW PODCAST! Michael Atkinson and Iain Payten ask whether the ‘Junkyard Dog’ is Wallabies ready and the latest on Michael Hooper

The Crusaders issued a statement announcing a review of the season when their match in Fiji ended.

“Our review is focused on performance and ensures we don’t make any rash decisions,” said chief executive Colin Mainsbridge.

“We want the team and organisation to operate to the standard we expect and that every opportunity to improve is looked at.”

Salesi Rayasi of the Hurricanes celebrates with Billy Proctor after scoring a try.

Salesi Rayasi of the Hurricanes celebrates with Billy Proctor after scoring a try. Getty

The Hurricanes also took a bonus point from a 41-14 win over the Highlanders in a match played in gale force winds in Wellington.

The bonus point broke the top of the table tie between the Hurricanes and the Blues, who beat the Chiefs 31-17 on Saturday.

The Blues and Hurricanes came into the last regular season round tied on 51 points.

The Hurricanes’ bonus point win took them to 56 points while the Blues finished with 55 after missing a bonus point when the Chiefs scored a last minute try.

Winger Salesi Rayasi scored a hat trick of tries and backrower Du’Plessis Kirifi claimed two in an impressive Hurricanes win.

Top seeding means they will retain home advantage as long as they stay in the playoffs.

“I guess we just want to be able to control our own destiny and we’re looking no further ahead than next week,” Hurricanes captain Jordie Barrett said.

The Blues seemed to have a bonus point under wraps when they led 31-7, by five tries to one, midway through the second half.

But the Chiefs finished strongly with tries from Josh Ioane and Quinn Tupaea.

Josh Ioane of the Chiefs scores a try at Eden Park.

Josh Ioane of the Chiefs scores a try at Eden Park. Getty

“We can be happy with the win but our goal was to win with the bonus point and unfortunately we didn’t do that,” Blues captain Patrick Tuipulotou said.

“It’s very disappointing for us, especially with the way we wanted to play. We didn’t do it consistently, only in patches.”

The match in Lautoka was the most momentous of the round, deciding the playoff fate of the Drua, Rebels and Crusaders.

The game was locked 19-19 at halftime but the Drua shocked the Rebels with three tries immediately after the break to take it by six tries to three.

The Rebels scored three first half tries, including a penalty try for a professional foul by Drua scrumhalf Frank Lomani, who received a yellow card in his first match back from a six week suspension.

Lomani atoned by scoring one of the Drua’s second half tries while winger Waqa Nalaga scored a try in each half.

Centre Iosefo Masi also scored a try to top an outstanding performance.

Check Also

Hot competition as Fox firms for flag bearer 'honour'

Hot competition as Fox firms for flag bearer 'honour'

Australian canoe slalom champion Jess Fox will begin her quest for a treble of Olympic …

Leave a Reply