Chiefs Vs Hurricanes
Kick Off: 8.35AM, Saturday 30th
Stadium: Westpac Stadium
Super Haka Fans
Chiefs – Jack Wall, Aron Calvert, Dean Callinan, Kieran Ryan, Jordan Johnson
Hurricanes – Kieran O’Malley, Mikey O’Gorman, Jordan Curry, Tom Russell, Cathal Hynes
Chiefs: Brodie Retallick, Sam Cane, Aaron Cruden, James Lowe, Damien McKeznie
Hurricanes: Loni Uhila, Ardie Savea, TJ Perenara, Beauden Barrett, Cory Jane
Predicted First Try Scorer: James Lowe
Game Changer – Beauden Barrett: Give Chiefs possession of the ball in your half and they will score – it’s almost as simple as that for the Waikito men. In order to avoid a repeat of the Chiefs Vs Stormers result, the Hurricanes will have to pin back their rivals and get a stranglehold on the game, keeping the scoreboard ticking over. All of this responsibility of course lies on the outhalf’s shoulders but by the looks of Barrett in recent weeks, he is more than ready to give the Chiefs a run for their money.
Comment (Admin Paul):
I can see this New Zealand Semi Final being extremely tight and high scoring but I ultimately think Chiefs are just too hot to handle for anyone in the game at the moment. In credit to the Hurricanes, not only did their backline destroy their quarter final opposition but their forward pack did also – the question is though, will they survive the Waikito onslaught? Beauden Barrett is in the form of his life and it would have to take a very good Aaron Cruden to match him on the field right now. However, if Chiefs can somehow get enough ball they are very clinical in attack which makes them very difficult for any team to face.
Verdict: Chiefs by 3
Lions Vs Highlanders
Kick Off: 15.30, Satuday 3oth
Super Haka Fans
Lions – Cian Long, Adam Barry, Jack Cosgrave, Thomas Joyce, Louis McCormick
Highlanders – Barry Hurley, Darragh Slattery, Luke Kelly, Frank Dooley, Darragh Curtin
Lions: Jaco Kriel, Faf de Klerk, Elton Janjities, Lionel Mapoe, Ruan Combrinck
Highlanders: Aaron Smith, Lima Sopoaga, Malakai Fekitoa, Waisake Naholo, Ben Smith
Predicted first try scorer: Waisake Naholo
Game Changer – Lionel Mapoe: The hard hitting Lions centre is going to have to be on his best level this weekend to quench the Highlander’s deadly attack. The New Zealand franchise have excelled so far this season when they have spread the ball out to the wings to Waisake Naholo and Patrick Osbourne but denying these men from warming to the ball will be vital for Mapoe. Matt Faddes and Malakai Fekitoa have been brilliant distributors for the ‘Landers while Ben Smith’s link up play adds another dimension when in their full flow. However, if the Lions centre stamps his authority in early on by smashing their creators, then the Highlanders could well look toothless.
Comment (Admin Ronan):
The Lions are probably the most exciting team in Super Rugby because of their lightning quick efficiency at the breakdown and it’s difficult to think that Highlander’s have it in their locker to disturb that. The pace of ball that this delivers for their back division means constant gain line advantages and as seen against Crusader’s they can outscore anybody. Still, the match is incredibly tough to call due to the combination of composure and flair of the world class Highlander backs and on paper they should be gliding through to the final. However, for the reasons stated previously and with them playing at home altitude, you can’t help but feel that the Lions will capitalise at every sniff they get.
Verdict: Lions by 10