The Africa Group got back underway this week after starting their June break a week earlier than the Australasian. The two Conference winners and wildcard qualifier have already been found, but each of them have an opportunity to improve their standing and possibly improve their quarter final draw.
LIONS 94-7 SUNWOLVES
The Lions have closed to within two points of the table-topping Crusaders with this crushing, 14-try romp in Johannesburg. Wing Ruan Combrinck scored a hat trick, and flankers Kwagga Smith and Jaco Kriel both scored doubles.
The Lions have a bye this week before travelling to Durban for their last-round match against the Sharks. Should they win that and the Crusaders lose to the Hurricanes, the Lions will qualify as top seed.
STORMERS 40-34 CHEETAHS
The Stormers scored six tries to four to secure an important away win and move a point ahead of the Brumbies into third place overall. Wing Cheslin Kolbe was the star of the show with a hat trick, and flankers Rynardt Elstadt (Stormers) and Henco Venter (Cheetahs) the villains as both were sent off for fighting late in the match.
The Stormers play the Sunwolves at home next week and finish their season against the Bulls in Pretoria.
BULLS 30-17 SHARKS
The Sharks could have gone level with the Highlanders but were upset by the Bulls who picked up their first away win of the season, and only their fourth in total. There was a hat trick in this match, too, to Bulls fullback Warrick Gelant.
The Sharks now face the Lions at home after next week’s bye.
KINGS 31-30 JAGUARES
In the only match with no influence over the finishing order the Kings were outscored five tries to four but got home thanks to the superior kicking of flyhalf Lionel Cronje (5/6) over that of his opposite Nicolas Sanchez (2/8).
QUALIFYING ORDER AFTER ROUND 15:
1. Crusaders (63)
2. Lions (61)
3. Stormers (34)
4. Brumbies (33)
5. Hurricanes (54)
6. Chiefs (53)
7. Highlanders (46)
8. Sharks (42)
ROUND 16 FIXTURES:
Technically Round 16 started with the Chiefs 17-14 win over the Hurricanes on 9 June. It concludes this week with the Australian sides also involved. The New Zealand Conference resumes on 15 July.
Un-Australian fixtures this week are:
Bulls v Kings
01:15 Sun 9 July*
Stormers v Sunwolves
03:30 Sun 9 July
*times are AEST.