Who gets fourth spot?
Thursday, August 14 2014 @ 01:55 am ACST
Contributed by: Brett Northey
Who will grab fourth spot and go through to the semi-finals of the 2014 AFL International Cup? It's almost impossible to call.
First up, who will the other 3 be? Our understanding of the AFL's rules for IC14 are that the top team in each pool at the end of Round 3 will go through. As you can see on the ladders (Ladders after Round 2) there's six nations still in contention. Ireland and Nauru, PNG and South Africa, New Zealand and USA are all on 2 wins 0 losses. Each pair are drawn to play each other in Round 3 (Community Round). This doesn't seem likely to be a coincidence. Unless there's a draw there will be one team sitting on top of each pool on 3 wins 0 losses. They go through.
If the matches go on historical form that means Ireland, New Zealand and PNG.
Then the pools are combined to determine 4th spot - the last semi-final position. We've crunched some numbers and come up with some fascinating possibilites, with Nauru, South Africa and the USA all obvious candidates, but Tonga, Fiji, Canada and Great Britain all in with big chances too. That's even tighter than the AFL's run to this year's finals.
Consider this realistic scenario (and using similar margins for want of a better estimate).
Ireland defeat Nauru 85 to 40.
PNG defeat South Africa 80 to 40.
New Zealand defeat USA 80 to 40.
Canada defeat Sweden 110 to 40.
Tonga defeat Japan 120 to 40.
Fiji defeat GB 50 to 40. Or GB defeat Fiji 100 to 40 (and this is probably the hardest match to call).
Then by our maths that gives ladder positions 4 through 10 as:
* Assumes results as above and includes both GB d Fiji and Fiji d GB for comparison.
These are all educated guesses at sensible final results, and of course Nauru, South Africa and the USA are all aiming to defeat their opponents and finish atop their pools, and if any one of those win their opponent will likely have sufficient percentage to finish 4th overall. So Ireland, PNG and NZ are looking pretty safe for the semi-finals either way, but if they all win there's going to be one hell of a battle for 4th spot.
Tonga and Great Britain are probably unlikely to get wins big enough to push up to 4th, but the challenge is not impossible. If Nauru, South Africa or the USA miss out to Fiji, Canada, Great Britain or Tonga one can imagine they will be fairly unimpressed by the nature of the draw, especially the USA having just defeated Canada by a comfortable margin in the end.
The AFL will want to be triple-checking every result before announcing their ladder this Saturday night!