It all came down to the fi­nal game

The Star Early Edition - - SPORT - JAC­QUES VAN DER WESTHUYZEN

SO IT WENT down to the last – and 135th – game of the sea­son.

The Lions’ 27-10 win against the Sharks in Dur­ban in the late game on Satur­day gave Jo­han Ack­er­mann’s Lions top spot on the over­all log and a place at home for the re­main­der of the com­pe­ti­tion; that is the play-offs.

The Lions fin­ished with 65 log points, two bet­ter than the Cru­saders, who lost to the Hur­ri­canes in Welling­ton ear­lier in the day. That de­feat – their first of the com­pe­ti­tion – opened the door for the Lions to take top spot; Ack­er­mann’s men also fin­ish­ing the league cam­paign with just the one de­feat – against the Jaguares in Buenos Aires.

The Lions will now face the Sharks – again – in the quar­ter-fi­nals at El­lis Park at 2.30pm on Satur­day; the Dur­ban­ites fin­ish­ing in eighth place over­all. The sec­ond-placed Cru­saders will host the sev­enth-placed High­landers.

Third-seeded Storm­ers will host the sixth-placed Chiefs at New­lands – the team they beat in quite sen­sa­tional fash­ion ear­lier in the com­pe­ti­tion – while the Aus­tralian Con­fer­ence win­ners, the Brumbies, will host the fifth-ranked Hur­ri­canes.

It is some in­dict­ment that the Brumbies, with a mere six wins from 15 matches for 34 points, get to host a quar­ter-fi­nal, when they have the least num­ber of points of all eight quar­ter-fi­nal­ists.

In some of the more en­ter­tain­ing and sig­nif­i­cant matches of the fi­nal round of ac­tion, the Sun­wolves pulled off a 48-21 win against the Blues, the Western Force beat the Waratahs 40-11, while in Port El­iz­a­beth, South Africa’s two axed teams from the com­pe­ti­tion saw the Chee­tahs pip the Kings 21-20.

Af­ter the reg­u­lar sea­son, the Hur­ri­canes – the Lions’ semi-fi­nal op­po­nents if both win their quar­ter-fi­nals clashes – top the try-scor­ing ta­ble with 89, fol­lowed by the Lions, with 81. They’re fol­lowed by the Cru­saders (77), Storm­ers (64) and High­landers (62). The team that scored the least num­ber of tries were the Rebels, with 23.

The best de­fen­sive team were the Lions, let­ting in just 27 tries in their 15 matches. Next best were the Chiefs (30), and they were fol­lowed by the Hur­ri­canes (31) and Brumbies (32).

The poor­est per­form­ing team were the Rebels who won once, the Sun­wolves won twice, while the Reds, Waratahs, Chee­tahs and Bulls won four times.

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