A number of unexpected results have compressed the Super 14 points table but probably reduced the potential semi-finallists to eight teams.
The Australian media has focussed on the fact that the Waratahs are nominally top of the table, but they are there on sufferance as a consequence of not yet having had a bye. The real situation becomes clear after adjusting team points by adding four points for the bye. With this correction the current table becomes:
Thus the true position of the Waratahs is fourth place
It would now appear that the Hurricanes have virtually dropped out of contention, leaving eight points separating eight teams. As we have seen this week, teams in the bottom six are still capable of causing upsets, but the key matches are likely to be those between teams still in contention. Looking at the run home for each of them:
The Bulls on 32 have to play the Chiefs and Reds away, then finish with home games against the Crusaders and Stormers. They can no longer be regarded as certainties to make the semis but should get there.
The Crusaders on 29 are at home to the Waratahs, then away to the Stormers and Bulls, before hosting the Brumbies in the final round.
The Stormers on 28 are away to the Blues, Chiefs and Reds, at home to the Crusaders, then away to the Bulls.
The Waratahs on 28 are away to the Crusaders, at home to the Brumbies, then away to the Chiefs.
The Reds on 25 are at home to the Bulls and Stormers, then away to the Brumbies.
The Chiefs on 25 are at home to the Bulls, Stormers and Waratahs then away to the Blues.
The Brumbies on 25 are away to the Waratahs, at home to the Reds and away to the Crusaders.They may regret only having collected one bonus point thus far.
The Blues on 24 are at home to the Stormers and Chiefs.
It could be that the eighth-placed Blues, by virtue of their easier run home, may sneak into the finals series, but the qualifying teams and order of finishing may only be resolved in the final week