Super Rugby Preview: Round 18

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There are permutations aplenty and all to play for in what promises to be a pulsating final round of Super Rugby this weekend.

Only the top four teams have already cemented their places in the play-offs – the log-leading, New Zealand Conference-winning Crusaders (58), first-time South African Conference winners, the Jaguares (46), the Australian Conference-clinching Brumbies (43) and the Hurricanes (49).

As things stand going into the weekend, the Bulls (fifth on 36), Lions (sixth on 35) and Stormers (seventh on 34) have one foot in the knockouts, while the Sharks (ninth on 33) still have a chance of finishing in the top eight.

On the other side of the spectrum, only the bottom three teams – the Blues (29), Reds (28) and Sunwolves (12) – are out of the play-off picture, leaving eight teams vying for the four remaining wildcard slots.

The Melbourne Rebels (eighth on 34), Chiefs (10th on 31), Highlanders (11th on 31) and Waratahs (12th on 30) are the other teams in the hunt.

Saturday’s local derbies in Cape Town and Pretoria are essentially do-or-die encounters, although a third draw in a row, or narrow loss, will still see the Bulls advance.

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