Here’s the latest update to the official On Top Of The Moon projected Pro 12 table. It’s all becoming a lot more straightforward now and Part 1 will take a look at the top three – who are essentially guaranteed a playoff spot – and what order they will finish in. Part 2 will consider the rest of the table – where there is still work to be done for those sides chasing the final place in the semi-finals and also 5th and 6th position which provide entry into next season’s Champions Cup.
On Top Of The Moon projected final Pro 12 table from 1st to 3rd prior to Round 21 (click for large version):
The current top three all have one fixture left against an Italian side:
Treviso v Connacht
Glasgow v Zebre
Leinster v Treviso
While none of the three teams will be complacent they have all shown they can be pretty ruthless at this stage of the season and the odds will heavily favour 5 point wins all round. This would be enough to put all of them into the playoffs – and guarantee two of these sides will play at home.
The most significant fixtures then become Ulster v Leinster in Round 21 and Connacht v Glasgow in Round 22. Leinster will play out their key match first which means Connacht and Glasgow will both know exactly what they need to do when they meet at the Sportsground.
Scenario 1 – Leinster take 5 points (win + try BP) from their game against Ulster
The Dubliners are uncatchable. Connacht and Glasgow will meet again in the playoff semi final with the the winner of the Round 22 clash having home advantage.
Scenario 2 – Leinster take 4 points (win)
The men from D4 can be caught by Connacht but not Glasgow. Everything from scenario 1 remains valid but with the added wrinkle that if Connacht were to beat Glasgow and get the try BP it wouldn’t be a trip back to the Sportsground but rather another excursion to the RDS for the Warriors – where their playoff dreams have been extinguished time and time again in the past.
Scenario 3 – Leinster take 3 points (draw + try BP)
Identical to Scenario 2 except now any Connacht win sends them to the top of the league and sets up a Leinster v Glasgow tie in the other semi-final.
Scenario 4 – Leinster take 2 points (draw or losing BP + try BP)
The same position as Scenario 3 for Connacht to top the league but now Glasgow can finish first with a BP win and send Connacht to Dublin for the playoffs.
Scenario 5 – Leinster take 1 point (losing BP or try BP)
The winner of the Connacht v Glasgow game will top the league and will play the 4th placed team – most likely Ulster. If Glasgow lose they will be heading for the RDS again. If Connacht lose most likely they would also need to travel to Dublin unless they collect both losing and try BPs – in which case it would be Leo Cullen’s men on the road for the interprovincial clash.
At this stage the odds would seem to favour 2 home wins in these crucial ties, leading to the first round of the playoffs lining up like this: Connacht v Ulster, Leinster v Glasgow. Equally though it’s not hard to imagine both matches finishing in favour of the away sides, giving semi-finals of: Leinster v Ulster/Scarlets, Glasgow v Connacht. What is for certain is that playoff levels of intensity will be required over the next two weeks for the teams still in the race for the championship.
There is a highly improbable set of circumstances whereby Connacht could lose the final game of the regular season but still finish above Glasgow. This would involve the men from Galway beating Treviso by a minimum of 30 points more than Glasgow manage to beat Zebre in Round 21, followed by the Warriors winning without a BP in Round 22, while Connacht pick up losing and try BPs.