Super Rugby 2013: Preview and Predictions – Semi-Finals
It’s the Seeemiii Finaaalsss!!
da da da daaaa
dada da da da
da da da daaa
dada da da da da daaaaaaa
We’re heading to Loftus
And Kiwi cowbell town
Cause we need finalists
To take it all
With so many rounds now done
And a trophy to be won (to be wooooon)
I’m sure that we’ll all enjoy the gaaames
da da da da daaaaa
It’s the Seeemi Finaaaals!
Lyrics by rennton
Music by Europe
Yesss, it is indeed that time. Two claps to the Reds for at least trying to have a go but in the end failing miserably against the Crusaders and a hearty well done to the Cheetahs for very nearly drawing the game (but for a missed conversion) and forcing extra time against the Brumbies last week.
Great effort Cheetahs but on to this week now and two Test match style situations coming your way on Saturday. The first an all Kiwi affair in Hamilton and the second a Saffa vs Aussie clash at Loftus. Feel the excitement, put it on. Walk around. Do some lunges. Nice. Now let’s get down and dirty and have a closer at the Semis (that’s what she said).
Super Rugby Semi Finals 27th July 2013
Chiefs vs Crusaders
The Chiefs have made numerous changes to their side with Andrew Horrell and Charlie Ngatai coming into the midfield, Asaeli Tikoirotuma getting a start on the wing and Gareth Anscomb returning from injury at fullback. Anscomb was having a blinder of a season and was leading try scorer before he got injured and coach Rennie will be hoping he finds similar form post-haste.
No changes for the Crusaders with Richie captain charming McCaw once again on the bench. Last week he got 15 or so minutes on the field but will no doubt get a few more this week. The sets of forwards are evenly matched but it is in the backs that the Saders should have the upper hand in this derby game. Last week, Dan the man Carter, Ryan Crotty and Israel Dagg all had blinders and with captain Kieran Read back to his best form, the Saders rightly start as favourites.
The Chiefs were face smashed 43-15 the last time these two sides met but the scoreline should be far closer this time. I reckon the Crusaders are near unstoppable at the moment and will end the defending champions’ run (which would suit the Bulls, should they win) but either way it will be a cracka lacka with awesome sauce and no mistake.
Venue: Waikato Stadium, Hamilton
Kick-Off: Sat, 9:35am (SA time)
Chiefs vs Crusaders Prediction: Saders by 5-10
Bulls vs Brumbies
Coach White has been bleating on about silencing the Loftus crowd by scoring early and how they plan to pilfer as many balls at the rucks as possible and take the Bulls on at the set piece, which is all fine and well but easier said then done, buddy boy. He then went on about how the Bulls play ‘typical SA forward based rugby and then rely on penalties to win’… again true but last I looked that is exactly how the Brumbies play, so this could well be a ping pong style kick fest on the Highveld come Sat afternoon.
The Brumbies have kept the same side that juuust held on to beat the Cheetahs at home and will be relying heavily on the experience of George Smith and Clyde Rathbone, who are the only Brumbies players to have been in Semis before.
The Bulls welcome back Springboks Jan Serfontein, Flip van der Merwe and Fran double sleeve Hougaard for this game and will be mightily glad about it too. Flip’s lineout skills and extra muscle at the rucks were sorely missed against the Stormers and Jan’s midfield partnership with JJ Engelbrecht is one of the most exciting in the country at the moment. I personally rate Jano Vermaak above Hougaard and would have started him but he will no doubt come on in the second half and score a try. Standard.
If this was being played anywhere else it would be much closer but I don’t see the Brumbies beating the Bulls at Loftus, who are near impossible to beat at home and should win this fairly comfortably in the end.
Venue: Loftus Versfeld, Pretoria
Bulls vs Brumbies Prediction: Bulls by 10-17
Oh yes, before all of the Semi-Final action adventures kick off, don’t forget to catch the first of the relegation games between the Lions and Kings on Fri night. It actually sucks the large one that only one of these sides can play next year, surely if a team is to drop out of Super Rugby it should be the Force? Just saying.
Kings vs Lions
Venue: Nelson Mandela Bay, PE
Kick-Off: Fri, 7:10pm
Kings vs Lions Prediction: Lions by less than 7