Rugby | SPORTS | Super Rugby

All You Need To Know About The Semifinals

The loss of openside flanker Ethan Blackadder with a shoulder injury has ended his hopes of further participation in the playoffs, and he’s expected to be replaced by Tom Christie on the side of the scrum in the semi.
07 Jun 2022 16:34
All You Need To Know About The Semifinals
Blues key playmaker Beauden Barrett dives over to score a try against Highlanders in the quarterfinal on June 4, 2022. Photo: Stuff.

How they got there: The Crusad­ers accelerated away from the Queensland Reds in their quarter­final in Christchurch on Friday night to win 37-15.

The loss of openside flanker Ethan Blackadder with a shoulder injury has ended his hopes of fur­ther participation in the playoffs, and he’s expected to be replaced by Tom Christie on the side of the scrum in the semi.

The success at Orangetheory Sta­dium was the Crusaders’ 12th win of the season. The return of first five-eighth Richie Mo’unga, who had been absent for two weeks, provided a treasure trove of expe­rience in that role and he was per­fect off the tee.

Never underestimate how valu­able this can be in sudden-death footy; he slotted four conversions, three penalties and also scored a try.

The Chiefs took apart the Wara­tahs 39-15 in their quarterfinal in Hamilton on Saturday night. A powerful display in the first half enabled them to lead 27-10 at half­time, with All Blacks Brad Weber and Brodie Retallick in excellent form.

It was the Chiefs’ 11th win of the year. Well deserved, too.

Breaking it down: Anyone betting against the Crusaders should be applauded for their courage.

Yet it could happen. Look what the Chiefs did to them in the fourth round fixture in Christchurch on March 12.

The Chiefs stunned the Crusad­ers 24-21 at Orangetheory Stadium that night, with Rameka Pohipi scoring a try three minutes after the final buzzer to set-off wild cel­ebrations like a scene out of Ani­mal House.

A couple of weeks later the Cru­saders got their revenge with a 34-19 win in Hamilton. Chiefs direc­tor of rugby Warren Gatland put it best when assessing the dam­age the Crusaders inflicted at the breakdown that night: “We kind of got our pants pulled down in that area.’’

Christie had a blast at FMG Sta­dium Waikato: he pilfered four turnovers and made 18 tackles.

Let’s predict a result: You can’t go past the Crusaders.

Anyone who walks into a playoff game against that lot in Christch­urch has to be prepared to feel the pain. Winning these games is in the Crusaders’ DNA.

When they unloaded their fury on the Reds in the scrums it was like watching an anaconda python squeeze the life out of a hapless mouse.

Beware Chiefs, you know what is coming. Their scrum will be much better than what the Queens­landers produced, but it will pay to be alert.

SATURDAY

  • Semifinal 2- Blues v Brumbies
  • Eden Park, Auckland
  • 7.05pm

How they got there: Hear that grinding, grunting and hissing sound? That’s the Blues machine rumbling its way into their citadel in Auckland. Get out of the way, quickly, and tell your children to hide.

Fourteen wins and just one loss, that is the Blues’ record as they prepare for the semi.

Eden Park used to be as daunting as visiting a paddock of cabbages. Now opposition teams fear to tread there. And rightly so. The Blues’ 35-6 win over the Highlanders in the quarterfinal on Saturday night was a sample of how much chaos they can create with their attack.

The Highlanders were at a nu­merical disadvantage for 20 min­utes, because of a red card to hook­er Andrew Makalio, which was obviously unhelpful but the Blues still had work to do and when their passing game clicked they im­pressed.

The Brumbies have been a glitter­ing star in the Aussie stable this season.

Their 35-25 win over the Hurri­canes in the quarterfinal in Can­berra was their 11th win of the season, and their ability to crush any chance of a revival from the New Zealanders at GIO Stadium was telling.

The Brumbies won the second half 20-3. The fact they finished the game so strongly, which quelled any resistance from the Hurri­canes, won’t have been lost on the Blues.

Breaking it down: If you have got multiple weapons in your attack, it’s criminal to decorate them with cobwebs.

The danger of Blues’ first-five Beauden Barrett’s running game was made evident against the Highlanders– he scored two tries – and if gets a glimmer of space the Brumbies should hear sirens going off all over the shop.

The Blues’ scrum wasn’t nearly as hot. The Highlanders had an excellent evening in this facet, with loosehead prop Ethan de Groot forcing Blues coach Leon MacDonald to told tighthead Ofa Tu’ungafasi to take a rest early in the second half.

The Brumbies can sting you with their driving mauls off lineouts – that is hardly a news flash– but they can also use the ball. They are an efficient bunch in the break­downs and work ethic across the park is a big part of their game.

Let’s predict a result: MacDonald and his coaching staff were joined by ex-Ireland boss Joe Schmidt this year, and you can’t help but feel that the latter’s vast knowl­edge has had a major impact on the franchise.

It’s a bit like a decade ago, when Wayne Smith joined head coach Dave Rennie at the Chiefs. We know how that turned out: The Chiefs won the title. – (Additional information from Stuff)

Feedback: leonec@fijisun.com.fj



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