How each of the four Kiwi teams can qualify top in Super Rugby

By Niall Anderson

The Chiefs gather round to try figure out the Super Rugby table. Photo / Getty
The Chiefs gather round to try figure out the Super Rugby table. Photo / Getty

The race for home advantage is well and truly on in Super Rugby, with four Kiwi teams a chance to top the competition going into the playoffs.

Putting aside the eliminated Blues, the four New Zealand sides who have booked their playoff places all face off with one another next weekend, creating plenty of permutations for both the top spot in the New Zealand conference, and top spot overall.

Home advantage is critical in the playoffs, though perhaps less so than usual given the new set of circumstances which will see at least two superior Kiwi sides travel to take on the Stormers and either the Brumbies or Waratahs respectively in the quarterfinals - teams who they would be favoured against on a neutral field.

As Gregor Paul notes, no side has managed to win three away playoff games in succession. Additionally, in 70 playoff games since 1996, there have been only 14 away wins - a figure which will surely be added to this year.

While earning pole position is somewhat of a pipe dream - it would require the table topping Lions to lose the Jaguares - earning second spot and a home passage to the final is still in play for all the Kiwi contenders.

It also comes with varying amounts of difficulty for each Kiwi team. The Chiefs can clinch it with a bonus point win over the Highlanders, or a normal win will suffice provided the Crusaders don't claim a bonus point victory over the Hurricanes.

The Crusaders can also top the New Zealand conference if they win and the Chiefs lose, or claim the aftorementioned bonus point victory while the Chiefs grind out a regular four-point win.

Things are more difficult for the Highlanders and Hurricanes, who both sit on 48 points. Both teams would require the other to win if they want to top the New Zealand conference, as losses to the front-running Chiefs and Crusaders would see them leapfrogged by both of last season's finalists.

However, then it would all come down to bonus points, with the value of a five-point victory of immense importance to seperate the four Kiwi teams, and also potentially the top spot overall if the Lions falter in Argentina.

Confused? Well, let me make it worse - there is the slimmest of chances where five teams - including the Lions - end on 52 points, and we have to go to points difference to decide the seedings.

Let the chaos commence....

Chiefs

Current position: Second (51 points)
Final Game: Highlanders (Away)
Highest possible finish: First
Lowest possible finish: Sixth

Crusaders

Current position: Fifth (50 points)
Final Game: Hurricanes (Home)
Highest possible finish: First
Lowest possible finish: Seventh

Highlanders

Current position: Sixth (48 points)
Final Game: Chiefs (Home)
Highest possible finish: First
Lowest possible finish: Seventh

Hurricanes

Current position: Seventh (48 points)
Final Game: Crusaders (Away)
Highest possible finish: First
Lowest possible finish: Seventh

How five teams could end up tied at the top

1. The Lions lose to the Jaguares without a bonus point
2. The Chiefs lose to the Highlanders but win a bonus point
3. The Crusaders lose to the Hurricanes but win two bonus points
4. The Hurricanes beat the Crusaders without a bonus point
5. The Highlanders beat the Chiefs without a bonus point

- NZ Herald

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