This weekend is a make-or-break one for South Africa’s two teams hoping to reach the knockouts of this year’s Super Rugby tournament – the Lions and Sharks.
Yet their form throughout the campaign has been so inconsistent that both don’t even have their destiny in their own hands and have to rely on favours.
Here’s what their prospects look like.
Overall position: 3rd (8 wins from 15 matches) with 41 log points
SA conference position: 1st
What they need to do: They need to beat the Bulls at Ellis Park on Saturday.
The favour they need done: They need the Brumbies to beat the Waratahs away from home in Sydney. (It wouldn’t be a bad thing if the Sharks also put one over the Jaguares)
Best scenario: They finish 1st in the SA conference and 2nd overall. They win a home quarterfinal and find form to even win a home semifinal. The Hurricanes win both their playoffs and book a final in Johannesburg.
Likely scenario: They finish 3rd overall because the Brumbies were too limited to win in Sydney. They win their home quarterfinal but then have to travel to selfsame Sydney for a semifinal date with the Waratahs.
Overall position: 9th (6 wins from 15 matches) with 32 log points
SA conference position: 3rd
What they need to do: They need to claim a non-negotiable victory over the Jaguares at Kings Park for a wildcard spot.
The favour they need done: The Highlanders must (and probably will) beat the Rebels in Dunedin. If the Rebels win, the Durbanites are out without even having played yet.
Best scenario: They hope the Rebels claim a surprise win in the “Glass House” so that they can just enjoy their final outing against the Argentinians and avoid the pain of a quarterfinal against the Crusaders in Christchurch.
Likely scenario: They endure the pain of a quarterfinal against the Crusaders.