June 8 (Reuters) - Highlights from Super Rugby week 17 matches:
Fullback Emiliano Boffelli scored a try in each half as the Jaguares clinched the South African conference title and earned a home quarter-final with victory over the Sharks in Buenos Aires.
Winger Sebastian Cancelliere also scored two tries — one set up by a brilliant jinking run by Boffelli — while Santiago Carreras crossed in the final minute for the home side, whose victory ensured that all four hosts for the quarter-finals were decided with one week left in the regular season.
Centre Andre Esterhuizen scored a late consolation try for the Sharks, with Curwin Bosch’s 69th-minute conversion the first shot at goal the visitors had.
The Canterbury Crusaders, Jaguares, ACT Brumbies and Wellington Hurricanes will host the quarter-finals in two weeks time.
Hurricane win over Lions ensures playoff home advantage
Brumbies down Waratahs to win Australian conference
Crusaders destroy Rebels to march into Super Rugby playoffs
Crusaders to retain name for 2020, logo to be changed
Late Visagie try snatches draw for Bulls against Highlanders
Three potential debutants for injury hit Stormers
Waratahs coach Gibson cagey on resting Wallabies
Folau launches legal action against Rugby Australia
Jantjies restored to Lions squad for key clash
Australia chief says Folau not welcome in NRL
Wallabies veteran Ashley-Cooper not the retiring type
Injury curse continues to beset Whiteley
Road warriors Jaguares head home with title in sight
The injury-hit Stormers outscored the bottom-of-the-table Sunwolves four tries to two but missed out on a potentially vital bonus point on Saturday as they kept alive their hopes of a place in the post-season playoffs.
Bongi Mbonami, on his return from injury, and Craig Barry, in his first game of the seaosn, scored tries for the Cape Town team as they led 14-6 at the break.
The Stormers went further ahead through Jaco Coeztee’s 52nd- minute try try but the Tokyo side struck back through fullback Semisi Masirewa.
Coetzee got a second try to put the Stormers in bonus-point range with eight minutes left only for Masirewa to strike again for the visitors and keep the Stormers’ haul to four points.
The Brumbies hit the Waratahs with a four-try blitz in 18 first-half minutes on their way to an emphatic victory in Sydney on Saturday that secured them the Australian conference title.
The twice Super Rugby champions are now assured of a home quarter-final in two weeks’ time, while the Waratahs could still take a mathematical chance of making the playoffs into their final regular-season clash against the Otago Highlanders.
Lock Rory Arnold, winger Andy Muirhead, centre Irae Simone and hooker Folau Fainga’a all crossed in quick succession from the 15th minute and flyhalf Christian Lealiifano converted all four tries to give the visitors a 28-3 halftime lead.
Scrumhalf Nick Phipps, evergreen centre Adam Ashley-Cooper and winger Curtis Rona crossed in the second half for the Waratahs but the hosts had too steep a hill to climb to get back into the contest after leaking so many points before the break.
Wingers Braydon Ennor and Seevu Reece both scored hat-tricks in Christchurch on Saturday as the defending champions assured themselves of the top seeding in the playoffs by handing the Rebels their heaviest ever defeat.
Fullback David Havili scored two tries while Bryn Hall and Ryan Crotty, in his 150th game, also crossed for the Crusaders, who moved to 58 points and cannot be caught on the table even though they have a bye for next week’s final round of matches.
The Wellington Hurricanes, who have the second-best points tally but are fourth in the standings due to the conference system, can only finish with 54 points. They play the Lions later on Saturday.
The Crusaders, who will host the eighth-placed team in the quarter-finals in two weeks and enjoy home advantage throughout the playoffs, will remain heavy title favourites on the back of this performance.
Number eight Scott Higginbotham scored two tries, one with less than four minutes remaining, as the Reds ended the Blues playoff hopes with victory in Brisbane on Friday.
Bryce Hegarty, who scored an early second-half try, kicked the conversion from near the sideline to give the Reds their 29-28 lead with three minutes remaining. Taniela Tupou also added a try for the Brisbane-based side.
Augustine Pulu scored two tries and had a third ruled out by the television official, while Blake Gibson and Taniela Tele’a also crossed for the Blues, who fell out of contention with the loss.
The Blues end their season against the Wellington Hurricanes next Saturday, while the Reds go to Canberra to face the ACT Brumbies.
Jaco Visagie scored a late try to snatch a draw for the Bulls against the Highlanders in Dunedin on Friday that effectively ended the home side’s playoff hopes.
Visagie’s 75th-minute try, after the Bulls finally cracked the Highlanders’ defensive line in a match that was played at a high tempo, moved his side to 36 points on the table, while the Highlanders went to 31.
Divan Rossouw and lock Jason Jenkins also scored tries for the Bulls, who are fifth, while the Highlanders are 10th and without doubt out of contention for the top-eight positions for the playoffs. Five other teams are between 30 and 35 points and still to play this weekend.
Waisake Naholo and Josh McKay both scored two tries each for the Highlanders, who were guilty of throwing away possession throughout the game. (Reporting by Greg Stutchbury, Nick Mulvenney and Mark Gleeson; Editing by Clare Fallon and Ed Osmond)