5 Key Battles for Super Rugby Round 18

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5 Key Battles for Super Rugby Round 18
Sandra Mu/Getty Images

This is the penultimate regular season round in Super Rugby 2014. The Sharks have run away with the South African conference, winning 10 out of 14 games. The Bulls are their nearest rivals, with 33 points to the Sharks' 45. The Waratahs, at the top of the Australian conference, also cannot be caught.

The most enticing round-18 action will involve the New Zealand conference. The Crusaders sit atop the table on points difference from the Highlanders in second. Both teams are well positioned to qualify for the finals but will want an overall top-three spot for a favourable draw in the knockout stages. They cannot afford to concede ground in this game week. 

With the Sharks dominant in South Africa, the bottom three qualifiers are likely to come from the fiercely fought New Zealand conference and the Australian conference. The Brumbies, the Highlanders and the Hurricanes currently sit in the remaining qualification spots.

However, the Western Force, the Blues and the Chiefs all have games in hand on the Hurricanes and the Brumbies. This means that a round-18 win will set up an enthralling final weekend for the regular season. 

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