This weekend the Lions have a chance to secure home-field advantage for the playoffs – an opportunity they’ve squandered before.

Rugby Power Index rankings update

At the start of round sixteen our Rugby Power Index (RPI) model rated the Waratahs and the Jaguares equally strong. Home field advantage should have tipped the balance of their matchup in the Waratahs’ favour. Despite this, and perhaps unsurprisingly given how their season has gone so far, the Waratahs lost and now trail the Jaguares by five RPI points.

There was another upset in Australia with the Reds beating the Brumbies in Brisbane. The one point win sees the Reds’ RPI rating climb three points, although they remain ranked in sixteenth place.

Last week we suggested the Kings might manage another upset, and sure enough they beat the Bulls by one point. This result sees the ratings gap between the two teams shrink to just five RPI points, which is notable given that the Bulls were rated thirty-four points higher than the Kings at the start of the season.

Now is not the time to take your foot off the accelerator

This time last season, the Lions sent a B-team to Argentina who lost them not only the match but top spot on the standings table too. It was a high risk gambit, and one that they may think twice about trying again.

The second-placed Lions should be taking their final regular season match against the Sharks seriously. If they win, the Lions will finish first overall in the standings table assuming the Hurricanes beat the Crusaders.

So how likely are the Lions to overtake the top-of-the-table Crusaders this weekend? Our RPI model gives the Lions a 69 percent chance over the Sharks, and the Hurricanes a 77 percent chance over the Crusaders. The probability of both results going the Lions’ way is then 53 percent – assuming they roll out their A-team against the Sharks of course.

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