SUPER RUGBY SEMI FINALS - Green and Gold Rugby
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SUPER RUGBY SEMI FINALS

SUPER RUGBY SEMI FINALS

The Lions will host the Crusaders in next week’s Grand Final after each of them demonstrated their title-winning credentials, but in contrasting fashion.

CRUSADERS 27-13 CHIEFS

The Crusaders, normally a team that likes to hold the ball for long periods and ramp up the pressure until something cracks, instead chose to give away possession and trust their defence to hold until the Chiefs counter-attacked themselves to a standstill.

The pattern was set early, the Chiefs putting together multiple phases before running out of ideas other than a Damian McKenzie kick straight to his opposite David Havilli, who claimed the mark but chose to keep the ball in play. A second long period of Chiefs possession ended when Aaron Cruden dropped the ball cold.

Crusaders 5/8 Richie Mo’unga got scoring underway after 13 minutes with a penalty, then three minutes later did well to field a ball, beat the first-up tackler and set his winger Israel Dagg away. Halfback Bryn Hall was on hand to take the final pas and score with Mo’unga converting for a 10-0 lead.

Chiefs winger James Lowe was awarded a try after 20 minutes but then the TMO intervened and detected a knock on in the grounding. This despite referee Jackson not asking for a review and there being no hint of any foul play that would have triggered the TMO’s ability to step in uninvited.

Two McKenzie penalties got the Chiefs in the game, as did several runs from he, Lowe and Cruden but on each occasion the defence held or an error occurred.

Half time: Crusaders 10-6 Chiefs

The first of two turning points in the match came after 50 minutes. Lowe fielded a kick in his 22 but was tackled by Mo’unga. The ball came loose and fell into the arms of Dagg who couldn’t believe his luck. The conversion missed but at 15-6 the Chiefs were visibly starting to lose some composure and accuracy.

The second and decisive blow was struck by winger Seta Tamanivalu. Having been held up over the line he powered over from the resulting five metre scrum, the conversion making it 22-6. He bagged a second try with seven minutes remaining, his centre Ryan Crotty the instigator, to put matters beyond any lingering doubt.

The Chiefs did score a late try to tireless lock Brodie Retallick which McKenzie converted but the match was effectively over as a contest with Tamanivalu’s first try.

Crusaders: 27
Tries: Bryn Hall, Israel Dagg, Seta Tamanivalu (2)
Conversions: Richie Mo’unga (2)
Penalty: Mo’unga

Chiefs: 13
Try: Brodie Retallick
Conversion: Damian McKenzie
Penalties: McKenzie (2)

Highlights:

LIONS 44-29 HURRICANES

The Lions looked gone after 30 minutes, trailing 3-22 and nothing seeming to go right for them, before producing an astonishing half of rugby to blow the Hurricanes off Ellis Park.

An early penalty to flyhalf Elton Jantjies would have settled his nerves after a poor match last week, but it didn’t last long with ‘canes halfback TJ Perenara swooping on his loose pass near halfway to kick ahead, regather and score. Jordie Barrett, now clearly the preferred goal kicker over brother Beauden, couldn’t convert.

From a lineout near halfway the Barrett brothers combined to put their winger Wes Goosen into space and score in the corner. This time the conversion was on target for a 12-3 lead. Another Hurricanes raid soon after resulted in Barrett adding another three and the Lions looking shell-shocked.

Flanker Ardie Savea scored the visitors third try, scooping up a loose pass near halfway to go in under the posts. Ultimately the try was down to Jantjies opting to tap a penalty rather than back his lineout, which at this point was one of the few things the Lions were doing well.

The Hurricanes had an opportunity to put the game well out of reach but hooker Dane Coles fumbled and the Lions cleared their line, the Lions soon winning a penalty that Jantjies this time drilled downfield. Prop Jacques van Rooyen barged over from a secondary penalty with Jantjies converting to give his team some hope going into the sheds.

Half time: Hurricanes 22-10 Lions

Whatever Lions coach Johan Ackerman said to his players at half time certainly worked as they came out firing, scoring two tries in twelve minutes to draw level.

The first saw halfback Ross Cronje plant the ball on the line after a rolling maul, the second hooker Malcolm Marx go over from another rolling maul on the back of a break by centre Harold Vorster that forced a penalty.

The Hurricanes regained the lead through centre Ngani Laumape, his fifteenth of the season coming after 55 minutes from a turnover inside the Lions 22. Barrett pushed the lead out to 29-22.

Beauden Barrett was unluckily yellow carded when his attempt to roll clear of a tackle caused the ball to come loose. Referee Jaco Peyper seemed almost apologetic in explains his decision, but obviously felt he had to rule on the outcome of Barrett’s action rather than trying to determine his intent.

With Barrett off the field the Lions took command of the game. First Jantjies kicked the penalty then Vorster and Jantjies himself scored tries, both converted, to lead 39-29 as Barrett rejoined proceedings. Both tries came after relentless Lions attacks, flanker Kwagga Smith in particular putting in several big carries.

Smith was rewarded for his efforts with a try that killed off any chance of a late Hurricanes comeback, set up by an Akker van der Merwe intercept. Jantjies wasn’t able to convert.

Lions: 44
Tries: Jacques van Rooyen, Ross Cronje, Malcolm Marx, Harold Vorster, Elton Jantjies, Kwagga Smith
Conversions: Elton Jantjies (4)
Penalties: Jantjies (2)

Hurricanes: 29
Tries: TJ Perenara, Wes Goosen, Ardie Savea, Ngani Laumape
Conversions: Jordie Barrett (2), Beauden Barrett
Penalty: Jordie Barrett

Highlights:

Match details for the Final have yet to be confirmed, but it’ll likely be at 22:30 AEST on Saturday and the Lions will be firm favourites with home teams having won 16 of 21 Finals, and no team having won a Final after crossing the Indian Ocean.

  • joy

    As an Aussie supporter LIONS LIONS LIONS and LIONS were my only moments of joy in 2017. There is a lot to learn from these games.

    • Brumby Runner

      The Lions certainly hit the rucks and ran onto their passes with speed and intent.They served it up to the Canes, no doubt, but before BB was YCed, their main attacking weapon was the rolling maul for which the Brumbies have been lampooned by nearly all and sundry over the past couple of years. Without BB, the Lions put the Canes away, but had the YC not occurred I would hazard that it would have been a much closer result in the end.

      I would like the Aus franchises and the Wallabies to take note of and copy the enthusiasm with which the Lions attacked close to the ruck. It seems to be the best way of putting the ABs, and others, under pressure. Mostert (spelling?) was especially effective in this aspect.

      • Funk

        The canes were very lucky not to have a second in the bin. BB I thought was a tad unlucky to get YCed, but then Coles (might have been Riccatelli) was very lucky not to get a YC.

        • Pearcewreck

          Barrett was not unlucky, he clearly kicked the ball back when he was lying on the ground, clear infringement, clear yellow.

      • joy

        Ball retention was also a big factor.

    • Kiwi rugby lover

      It’s certainly been a sad year for you and all the Australian rugby supporters. I just hope the ARU get their shit together and make a decision so that you can move on for next year.

  • Tommy Brady

    Thanks for the write/up’s here Brent. Credit to the Lions who were badly outplayed in the 1st 30 minutes but rallied from 22-3 down to completely dominate the 2nd half and deservedly beat the Hurricanes. The Hurricanes should feel sick. They lost control of a game they had control of.and must get smarter at wresting momentum back when they find it reversing away from them. It will be a painful off-season.

    The Crusaders were their ruthless best but 3 big games in 3 weeks and now a long trip to Jo’burg will test what they have left in their tank. I sense the Lions start favorites at home.

    This competition has it’s distinct faults but a final between the top SA side and the top NZ side at an iconic rugby venue will be an epic contest. Rugby fans everywhere should be excited.

    • Kiwi rugby lover

      Yeah I think the travel finally got to them. Maybe they should look at a 2 week break between the semis and the finals to allow for recovery as I’m not sure that having the travelling team lose their mojo in the second half is fair. It wasn’t for the Lions last year and it won’t be for the Crusaders either.

      • Tommy Brady

        Yes indeed KRL. The fact that in the history of the tournament, no visiting team from another country has won the final shows the clear advantage the home team enjoys. It’s just another layer of importance to featuring as high as possible in the regular rounds of the competition. The Crusaders won 14 consecutive games this year – but lost their 15th away to the Hurricanes. The fate of their season changed that evening. They will have to dig very deep for 80 minutes this Saturday. This Lions team at Ellis Park are good. Very good!

        • Bakkies

          Crusaders have won Finals in Australia

        • Tommy Brady

          I am sorry – you are correct Bakkies. I thought the Crusaders 20-19 victory over the Brumbies in 2000 was played in Christchurch.

  • idiot savant

    Thanks Brent. It will be fascinating contrast in styles in the final. The epic defence of the Crusaders up against the running from deep attack of the Lions. Crusaders look mentally tough enough to win it if the altitude and travel doesn’t get to them. Gee Crotty is a good player.

    I thought the Hurricanes were lucky to score two soft tries almost against the run of play. The kind bounce on both occasions got them closer than they might otherwise have been. And you cant tell me that B Barrett didnt haul himself away while intentionally kicking the ball. He was looking at it. BB’s got an attitude and and the number of YC he gets will not got unnoticed by the referees. He might be the new Quade.

    • Pearcewreck

      You are spot on idiot, those two tries were very lucky for the Hurricanes.

      That forward was clearly offside when he knocked the ball out of the halfbacks hands.
      Should have been a Lions penalty.
      Agree with you about Barrett, he has such a nasty arrogant streak.

      Still best team won.

      • Mica

        Bit harsh on Barrett. Good player who’s got a number of YCs this year. Just needs to dial back pushing laws in the last defender scenario. Suspect some of this is in the coaching and it’s harder to hide in yellow than black. :)

        • idiot savant

          Yeah thats what the Wallabies have found… The worst colour jersey in world rugby.

          But you’re right in that BB is the epitome of the NZ attitude to push the boundaries. For some reason, this doesn’t get penalised in NZ schools. In Australian schools you just get hammered for pushing the boundaries so our players just dont possess the instinct to try and milk advantage all the time.

  • Pearcewreck

    Great comeback from the Lions from 22-3 down after 34 minutes.

    Question?
    What is the biggest comeback in a finals match?

    I know the Highlanders scored three late tries this year to win, but what about in finals?

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