Super Rugby

5 talking points: Super Rugby Week 15

The Crusaders celebrate Mitchell Hunt's winning drop goal... (Getty Images)
The Crusaders celebrate Mitchell Hunt's winning drop goal... (Getty Images)

Cape Town - Sport24’s Herman Mostert highlights FIVE talking points after Round 15 of the 2017 Super Rugby competition:

1. Miraculous drop goal saves the day for Crusaders

Replacement Crusaders flyhalf Mitchell Hunt’s 83rd minute drop goal to win the game against the Highlanders will go down as one of - if not the greatest - drop goals in the tournament’s history.

With the scores level at 22-all, Hunt's out-of-the-blue effort from 43m out left the men from Dunedin stunned.

It was an effort Springbok drop goal king Naas Botha would've been proud of and shows there’s still place in the game for such a fine art.

2. Crusaders, Lions in dogfight for top spot

The Crusaders’ last-gasp win allowed them to go seven points clear of the Lions atop the overall standings.

The Lions, however, have a game in hand and the No 1 position on the log will likely only be determined on the last weekend of regular season action.

The Crusaders have one game remaining - a tough one away to the Hurricanes - while the Lions have two to play - an "easy" match at home against the Sunwolves and a trickier encounter against the Sharks in Durban.

The Lions should bag five points against the hapless Sunwolves which will see them heading into the final round just two adrift of the Crusaders.

If the Crusaders lose to the Hurricanes and the Lions win in the Shark Tank, then the men from Johannesburg will finish top.

That would be vital as it would see them host the final if they win their home quarter-final and semi-final.

In my view, for the Lions to win the tournament they need to host the final.

We all saw what happened last year when they travelled to Wellington (to play the Hurricanes) and travelling to Christchurch to win a final would be a monumental task.

3. Super Rugby try-scoring record broken

Following their six-try 34-12 demolition of the Western Force in Perth, the defending champion Hurricanes broke the record for most tries in a Super Rugby season - their 83 tries overtaking the Lions' 81 from last season.

The Hurricanes, led by the mercurial Beauden Barrett, are what New Zealand is all about and a testament to how the modern game should be played.

With the season not yet finished and the tournament reverting to a 15-team event next year, the Hurricanes may have bragging rights to this record for quite some time...

4. Depth of New Zealand rugby is impressive

The British and Irish Lions’ tour of New Zealand started with a hard-fought 13-7 win over the New Zealand Provincial Barbarians.

This was a game the Lions were expected to win with ease against a team made up of players from 15 of New Zealand's provinces.

In-studio SuperSport pundits Nick Mallett and John Robbie were in agreement beforehand that the Lions should win “by about 30-40 points”.

I was however not too surprised by what transpired as the Kiwis produced a spirited and cohesive effort and were perhaps unlucky not to win.

It showed how great the quality in depth in New Zealand rugby is at present.

5. Cheetahs, Kings confirmed exit drawing near?

There was renewed talk over the last few days that South African teams will be added to the PRO12 competition in Europe.

The BBC reported that the Cheetahs already received an official invite to join the PRO12 - a competition which comprises teams from Ireland, Scotland, Wales and Italy.

The Cheetahs denied this but it’s highly likely that they are just delaying the inevitable.

Sport24 has it on good faith that SA Rugby CEO Jurie Roux recently met with Celtic Rugby bosses, with an official announcement expected in July.

The Kings should be the other South African team axed from Super Rugby, but their future is a bit more uncertain due to political reasons.

The region’s strong black rugby heritage makes it difficult for SA Rugby to exclude them from Super Rugby.

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