Have the Waratahs left it too late?

Michael Hooper of the Waratahs celebrates with his team mates after scoring his second try against the Chiefs  at Allianz stadium. Photo: AAP Image/David Moir
Michael Hooper of the Waratahs celebrates with his team mates after scoring his second try against the Chiefs at Allianz stadium. Photo: AAP Image/David Moir

It was their best win of the season, but it may have been a case of too little too late for the Waratahs.

Despite starting round 14 on top of the Australian conference, and beating competition leaders the Chiefs 45-25 in Sydney, the Tahs dropped to second on the Aussie ladder after the Brumbies earned a bonus point by demolishing the Japanese Sunwolves 66-5 in Canberra.

That means with three rounds remaining, provided things stay as they are, the Tahs would find themselves watching on once the playoffs begin.

They could even finish with more points than some of the teams in the top eight, such is the lopsided nature of not only the draw in this year's historic Super Rugby competition, but also the way the finalists are decided.

With the 18 teams split into four conferences - one in Australia, one in New Zealand and two in South Africa - the top team in each of those conferences will earn a spot in the finals, and importantly, a home final in week one.

As it stands, they are the Crusaders (45 points), Lions (42), Stormers (36) and Brumbies (34).

The other four finalists will be made up of the top three teams on the Australasian conference - presently the Chiefs (42 points), Hurricanes (40) and Highlanders (38) - and the next best team from the two South African conferences - presently the Sharks (35).

Despite the Stormers not having to play any of the New Zealand teams this year, they could get a home quarter-final, a point not lost on Chiefs coach Dave Rennie.

"There's going to be four quarter-finals and two of them are going to be in Africa," he said.

"Considering they've got six teams and half those games are going to be there ... I guess they put a lot of money into it, so that's the way it is."

 

SCORES: HURRICANES 27 (A Savea 2, Shields tries; Barrett 3 con, 2 pen) HIGHLANDERS 20 (Sopoaga, Lienert-Brown tries; Sopoaga 2 con, pen, Banks pen) in Wellington

WARATAHS 45 (Folau 2, Hooper 2, Kellaway, Dempsey tries; Foley 6 con, pen) CHIEFS 25 (Tamanivalu, Cruden, Harris, Pulu tries; McKenzie con, pen) in Sydney

SOUTHERN KINGS: 29 (Ferreira, penalty try, Human, Mjekevu tries; Fouché 3 con, pen) JAGUARES 22 (Isa try; Sánchez con, 5 pen) in Port Elizabeth

CRUSADERS 26 (Nadolo, Ellis tries; Mo'unga 2 con, 4 pen) BLUES 21 (West, Moala tries, West con, 2 pen; Francis pen) in Auckland

BRUMBIES 66 (Moore 2, Ah Wong 2, Fardy, Dowsett, Toua, Jackson-Hope, Dargaville, Taliauli tries; Lealiifano 8 con) SUNWOLVES 5 (Yamada try) in Canberra

LIONS 56 (Van Rensburg 2, Mapoe, Redelinghuys, Kriel, Skosan, De Klerk tries; Boshoff 6 con, 3 pen) BULLS 20 (Kriel, Strauss, Stegmann tries; Schoeman con, Brummer pen) at Loftus Versfeld)

STORMERS 31 (D du Plessis, Zas, Van Wyk tries; J L du Plessis 2 con, 4 pen) CHEETAHS 24 (Schoeman, Petersen tries; Zeilinga con, 3 pen; Marais pen) in Cape Town

REBELS 27 (Naivalu 2, Hodge, Timani tries; Hodge con, pen; Debreczeni con) FORCE 22 (Morahan 2, Scoble tries; Grant 2 con, pen) in Melbourne


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