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The final match of the 2018 Super Rugby season is to be played this weekend. The Crusaders from New Zealand will play the Lions from South Africa, in Christchurch.
The Crusaders beat the Hurricanes 30-12 to get to get to their 13th final appearance. The Lions beat the Waratahs 44-26 to get to their 3rd consecutive final. They will be hoping to finally win one.
The Super Rugby play-offs start this weekend with the top 8 teams fronting up to try and progress through to the final. There are 4 teams from New Zealand, 2 from South Africa, 1 from Australia and, for the first time, the Jaguares from Argentina.
The vagaries of the conference system give the Lions (against the Jaguares) and Waratahs (against the Highlanders) home matches despite not having the points of other teams so they will be looking to make the most of their advantage.
The Sharks prize for scraping into the play-offs with their win in the last game of the regular season is a trip to play the Crusaders in Christchurch, while the Hurricanes and the Chiefs go at it again, this time in Wellington.
Samoa have qualified for the RWC 2019 in Japan after beating Germany in a 2 match qualifying series. Samoa won the first match in Samoa 66-15 and then travelled to Germany to win the second game by 42-28.
This leaves 2 teams left to qualify, one from Africa and one through the repecharge system.
Leinster have won the European Rugby Champions Cup for the fourth time after beating Racing 92 in the final at Bilbao in northern Spain.
In a tight game neither team could get away from the other on the scoreboard but Racing only fell behind when Leinster kicked a penalty in the 78th minute.
From the restart Racing drove back into kicking range but the attempted drop goal, to take the game into extra time, went wide of the posts.
Gloucester Rugby have further Challenge Cup agony after Cardiff Blues won the title with a last minute penalty kick.
Gloucester scored the points in the first half with two tries and two penalties to lead 20-6 at half time. Cardiff fought back throughout the second spell, scoring three tries before winning with the penalty in the 79th minute.
It was Cardiff Blues second time at winning the title having previously won in 2009/10.
This weekend sees the start of another Super Rugby season. With three less teams and a slightly changed format, all the Southern Hemispheres big clubs are ready to fight it out again.
The start sees only the South African conference in action before all teams start playing the following week.