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Aussie teams sitting pretty in Super Rugby

Date

Darren Walton

Momentum: Nick Phipps of the Waratahs. NSW are one of three Australian teams currently in the play-off positions.

Momentum: Nick Phipps of the Waratahs. NSW are one of three Australian teams currently in the play-off positions. Photo: Getty Images

Halfway through the competition and three Australian teams are positioned to qualify for the Super Rugby finals for the first time in history.

The Brumbies in 2004 and Queensland Reds in 2011 are the only Australian sides in the past decade to have won a Super championship, but now the NSW Waratahs and Western Force are threatening to challenge for maiden titles after climbing into playoff contention.

Runners-up last year to New Zealand's Chiefs, the Brumbies (25 points) are second overall in the standings and clinging to a one-point lead over NSW in the hotly-contested Australian conference following the Waratahs' gritty 19-12 win over the Bulls on Saturday night.

The Waratahs (24) leapfrogged the fifth-placed Force (23) into fourth with the Perth-based outfit's 22-16 loss to the Melbourne Rebels earlier in round 10.

The Rebels (16) and Reds (16) are each six points adrift of the top six but not completely without hope of pushing for the playoffs, with both teams set for a series of "eight-point" derbies over the final eight rounds of the home-and-a-way season.

The Rebels have four derbies to come, including two showdowns with the Reds, presenting the underdogs with a big opportunity to climb the Australian conference ladder if they're good enough.

The Waratahs' hosting of the Brumbies in the penultimate round could decide conference honours, while the Force's home game against the Reds the following week may well determine if Australia boasts three finalists for the first time.

NSW coach Michael Cheika has been eyeing a top-two finals spot since the pre-season and believes the Waratahs are on course after beating the Bulls.

"We don't have a buffer, but we're on track," Cheika said.

"We're five (wins) and three (losses), we've got a few bonus points, we've got a (win) away from home in our pocket, we've (won) all our home games."

While three Australian teams are sitting pretty at the halfway point, South African sides, with the exception of the table-topping Sharks, are struggling to make an impact.

The Sharks (31) shot six points clear of the second-placed Brumbies with their 19-8 derby win over the Cheetahs in Durban and the Chiefs' 18-17 home loss to the Crusaders in Hamilton earlier on Saturday.

The Chiefs (26) remain third, and top of the New Zealand conference, with the Crusaders (22) nudging above the Hurricanes (20) into the top six.

The Sharks are the only South African team in the top half of the table, with the Bulls, Lions, Stormers and Cheetahs all languishing.

AAP

Rugby Internationals 2014

Round 1
Sat, 07 JunTimes shown AEST
SAM 18 vs TGA 18 Report Stats
FJI 25 vs ITA 14 Report Stats
NZL 20 vs ENG 15 Report Stats
AUS 50 vs FRA 23 Report Stats
Sun, 08 JunTimes shown AEST
RSA 47 vs WXV 13 Report Stats
ARG 17 vs IRE 29 Report Stats
USA 6 vs SCO 24 Report Stats
CAN 25 vs JPN 34 Report Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 2
Sat, 14 JunTimes shown AEST
SAM 15 vs ITA Report Stats
FJI 45 vs TGA 17 Report Stats
NZL 28 vs ENG 27 Report Stats
AUS 6 vs FRA Report Stats
Sun, 15 JunTimes shown AEST
RSA 38 vs WAL 16 Report Stats
CAN 17 vs SCO 19 Report Stats
ARG 17 vs IRE 23 Report Stats
USA 29 vs JPN 37 Report Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 3
Sat, 21 JunTimes shown AEST
ARG 19 vs SCO 21 Report Stats
FJI 13 vs SAM 18 Report Stats
JPN 26 vs ITA 23 Report Stats
AUS 39 vs FRA 13 Stats
NZL 36 vs ENG 13 Report Stats
Sun, 22 JunTimes shown AEST
RSA 31 vs WAL 30 Report Stats
USA 38 vs CAN 35 Report Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 4
Sun, 29 JunTimes shown AEST
RSA 55 vs SCO 6 Report Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 5
Sun, 02 NovTimes shown AEDT
BAR 36 vs AUS 40 Report Stats
USA 6 vs NZL 74 Report Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 6
Sun, 09 NovTimes shown AEDT
ITA 24 vs SAM 13 Report Stats
ENG 21 vs NZL 24 Report Stats
WAL 28 vs AUS 33 Report Stats
FRA 40 vs FJI 14 Report Stats
IRE 29 vs RSA 15 Report Stats
SCO 41 vs ARG 31 Report Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 7
Sun, 16 NovTimes shown AEDT
ITA 18 vs ARG 20 Report Stats
ENG 28 vs RSA 31 Report Stats
WAL 17 vs FJI 13 Report Stats
SCO 16 vs NZL 24 Report Stats
FRA 29 vs AUS 26 Report Stats
Mon, 17 NovTimes shown AEDT
IRE 49 vs GEO 7 Report Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 8
Sun, 23 NovTimes shown AEDT
ITA 6 vs RSA 22 Report Stats
SCO 37 vs TGA 12 Report Stats
IRE 26 vs AUS 23 Report Stats
WAL 16 vs NZL 34 Report Stats
ENG 28 vs SAM 9 Report Stats
FRA 13 vs ARG 18 Report Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 9
Sun, 30 NovTimes shown AEDT
ENG 26 vs AUS 17 Report Stats
WAL 12 vs RSA 6 Report Stats
View All Fixtures
 
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