Highlanders' two draws may prove costly

The Highlanders have won only five games this season. Photo: Getty
The Highlanders have won only five games this season. Photo: Getty
The Highlanders are in a dogfight to make the playoffs although they have control of their own destiny.

But the two draws the side has racked up may come back to bite it even though one of them was completely out of its hands.

The team was due to arrive late last night in Johannesburg where it will begin preparations for its two matches in South Africa. The first is against the Lions in Johannesburg on Sunday morning.

It will then face the Stormers in Cape Town on May 26.

The team is fifth on the table, which was where it sat at the same time last year.

The Highlanders ended up finishing sixth to make the playoffs but went out in the first round, losing to the Waratahs.

But this year the fight for the playoffs is much tighter. The 10th-placed team last year at this time was eight points or two wins behind the fifth-placed team.

This year, the 10th-placed team, the Stormers, is just a win away from the Highlanders.

The Lions are handy to the playoffs, just three points behind the Highlander, s but now sit ninth.

Now, this is where we could start about the unfair nature of the competition and how hard the New Zealand teams have it.

It is changing to a proper round-robin in 2021 and, for those purists among us, it cannot come soon enough.

The Brumbies get to play the Sunwolves twice and, with their win over the Japanese franchise on Sunday night, have now gone up into the top two as they have scored one more win than the Sharks who are also on 29 points.

Many competitions separate teams on the same number of competition points on points differential but not so in Super Rugby.

Unlike most other competitions, if teams have the same points, they are firstly separated on the number of wins.

This is where the Highlanders are at a disadvantage - they have won only five games this season. The four teams immediately below - Rebels, Bulls, Jaguares and Lions - have all won six.

The Highlanders drew the scheduled game against the Crusaders at Forsyth Barr Stadium which was called off. The other draw was the frustrating capitulation to the Chiefs earlier this month.

The Highlanders also have their second bye while those four teams directly below them have had both theirs.

With this many sides still in with a chance of making the playoffs - even the Blues on 21 points are in with a chance - it is going to be hard to predict the amount of points needed.

The Highlanders have won only one more game than the Blues, who are second-last. Depending on how the side performs in South Africa, the team will be anxious when the bye arrives at the end of the month.


Super rugby

The table
Crusaders 47, Brumbies 29, Sharks 29, Hurricanes 40, Highlanders 29, Rebels 28, Bulls 28, Jaguares 28, Lions 26, Stormers 24, Reds 23, Chiefs 23, Waratahs 22, Blues 21, Sunwolves 12.




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