Preview: Super Rugby Semi Finals


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Benedict Chanakira looks ahead to this weekend semi final clashes in New Zeeland and Australia.

Mission Impossible? or is the dream still alive!

Cell C Sharks vs Crusaders

The Sharks are enroute to their first Super Rugby title. New Zealand sides have had the toughest and closest conference yet we have one last standing campaigner. The most successful side in the Competition history. South Africa have the worst conference but early log leaders the Sharks have impressed.

They have to do it the hard way unfortunately. A tough game against the Highlanders  and now off to Christchurch.  Is it possible to do the double? Daniel Carter, Kieran Read and Richie Mccaw are all back. A few weeks ago Sharks managed a win with 13-man. To repeat this miracle seems a step too far.

The Crudaders have recently stepped into their purple patch and have started to build some momentum.The break could be positive or a negative. Its a big ask to travel and win AGAIN but with this Sharks side its possible.

The task gets even tougher with Anton Bresler and Tendai Mtawarira missing from the traveling party. While capable replacements are there this is a blow. Crusaders will be wary of a repeat of that result a few weeks ago.

A tight contest is on the cards and a moment of brilliance should be required to get a winner. Should the Sharks win, as a fan I will eat humble pie and await the final!

Key players :

Kieran Read & Frans Steyn


Crusaders by 4

Waratahs vs Brumbies

We are guaranteed an Australian side in the final. Consistency has been impressive on the Waratahs part, not so for their Australian counterparts who have shown growth except the regressing Reds but still yet to get there. Last year we also had the Brumbies but they just could not finish off the Chiefs. Unlike last year they managed to stop the kiwis from a late onslaught in the Quarter-finals.

Have they learnt their lesson? Could they send Laurie Fischer off in style and get two big wins? The two sides met earlier and the result was a massacre. The stakes are much higher and gives the Brumbies a reason to be much more clinical.

An upset over the favorites will be a tough ask. The Tahs look like champions. South African Jacques Potgieter described him as the best coach he has worked with. Michael Cheika. The strategist has the title to lose. We are burying the pressure solely on the Tahs! To add to the Brumbies debacle the X-factor in the NSW side is frightening, looking no further than Israel Folau.

Key players :

Robbie Coleman & Israel Folau

Waratahs by 15

That’s two cracking Semifinals and possibly a repeat of a Kiwi-Aussie match up in the final!!

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Better known as Bunny, Took over after Pissant went over to the "Dark Side"


  1. The Sharks might have flown into town from the west late last night but it is more what is hitting Christchurch from the south that matters right now. The pressure belts have lined up to give us cold south westerlies all week right into game day and I hope the Durban boys have brought their thermals. Not that they will be on a ski-ing trip but the winds will be right off the ski runs of the Southern Alps.

  2. Good article Benedict although I expect you will pick up some flak from your accurate description of the relative strengths of the SA and NZ conferences. Some of us were trying to make the same observation earlier this year when there was a lot of chest beating about SA teams going to ply their trade in the northern hemisphere but at least you now have the S15 log and points tally to back you up.

    The Sharks are by far and away the best SA conference side and surprised many of their supporters on this side of the world with the game plan they adopted in squeezing past the Highlanders. Gone was the trademark Jake White gameplan of kicking to the corners and playing the game in the opposition half although that might have been because the Highlanders were getting so little setpiece possession that the gratefully accepted any kicked away possession and ran it at the Sharks with running rugby, deft offloads and some outstanding tries from deep in their half.
    Expect this to have been noticed by the Crusaders who might not have a Fekitoa but do have some gas in their backline and a more powerful tight five than the Highlanders.

  3. Big fan of how tight and dominant the New Zealand conference was. No wonder they are dominant at Test level. A look at our own Cheetahs side and you have a side laden with Springboks yet fail to really kick on. In South Africa WE LACK QUALITY COACHES. THE Sharks are capable of reaching the final. However its going to take a heck of a lot to. Jamie Joseph described the Crusaders as complete. They have weaknesses but if you need anyone to be strategic its Jake White. It will be a cracker…..

  4. I wouldn’t right off a Brumbies upset despite this being the best Tah’s side I have seen…

    They were sublime against the Chiefs despite their lapses… albeit that might have been their (like the Sharks) finals…

    Odds for the weekend…

    Both away side not surprisingly over $3.20-1 to win… but the surprising bet at the moment is that sportsbet have an Australian team taking the title… with NZ team paying $2.5-1 which is a good bet…

  5. The price and rivalry and emotion should it be a Sharks – Brumbies final. Well now. Brings it back here in South Africa

  6. @bchanakira2:

    I could only imagine…

    But would you want the Sharks to fly back or play a final in Aus without the terrible flight back…

    Mind you silly question… Brumbies would be battered after their grudge game against Tahs… and both teams would face a dodgy flight…

    Pipe dreams at this stage

  7. Even though Crusaders are uh the Crusaders….
    I hold hope that JakeWhite’s CCells can surprise.
    Can’t count out JW ever he’s a shaman that dresses like a nerd.

    As far as the Waratahs/Brumbies – I haven’t watched Waratahs once this season – but do you really think I’m going to let that get in the way of having an opinion?

    Every year the same ol’ Waratahs are gonna do it, they’re stacked ad nauseum & every year they find a way to implode.
    I’m picking an upset by Long-Haired-Laurie’s charges so we will see the Hollywood drama final in Durban.

    Why not? Then we can finally get done with the S15 festival & get to the real deal RC. Finally!

  8. @Americano:

    Waratahs haven’t topped their table nor made a semi nor been unbeaten at home in as long as I can remember…

    But you’re correct there’s quite a difference between making the play-offs and taking the title… ask the Stormers and Sharks…

  9. Bryce, I would take the easier route. Win first, meet thw aussies there. However the Tahs look the real deal gents. Only way to play the Bum-bies would be at home. Lets see what surprise Jake has. My favorites remain Tahs from day 1.

  10. I am biased against Waratahs so hope you’re wrong BC.
    That’s the team who – under their ghoulish coach at the time – Michael Foley-
    Ruined the development of none other than previous year Cheetah MVP Super Sarel Pretorious.
    I’ll never forgive their meddling with the career of SuperP.

  11. I remember that horror year for what was the best 9 on attack in south Africa the previous year. #memorycheck The Tahs core is down to Jacques who took a swipe at SA rugby and Folau .

  12. I choose the Crusaders just because they’re like Manchester United of the 1990s and German football..

    You can never count the fugggers out… tyere’s always a flipping little sideshow or last minute drama or some such… you’ve never beaten them till the hooter goes and you’re eleven* points clear and in possession of the ball. And even there is a chance of some freaky occurence.

    * because they’ll contrive to score a converted try and get a penalty during the scoring of the try and then beat you in extra time.

  13. @bchanakira2:

    Potgieter most certainly did not take a swipe at RSA rugby…

    The Bulls let him go and then halfway through this season came begging at his door saying they had made a mistake…

    He simply said he was honouring his two year Tahs contract and was loving being there… so turned them down…

    Who wouldn’t love the standing ovations the guy gets week in and out…

    As for Sarel… he was just another dud for the Tahs like Roodt…

    Excellent in the first few games but then his lack of kicking game, passing game and defensive frailties saw McKibbon take over and the Tahs searching for a replacement (Phipps from the Rebels)…

    Sarel is a better wing than a 9… and the Tah’s had plenty of those…

    Potgieter, Ebersohn and to a lesser degree Brache are the only real RSA imports of late that have followed through out of a fairly long list…

  14. Good article mate.

    I cannot for the life of me see the Sharks beating the Saders with that old Bok give away possession kick and chase predictable game plan.

    USE YOU FRIIGIN BACKLINE FFS!!! Come on Jake take a punt mate as your close to the ruck plan was so predictable. Your are a much better team than this. A pop pass instead of going to ground.

    The Saders always start slow S15 and time their run into the finals.
    Lets see how many cards MCcheat gets away with although I do like Jackson as a ref. Yep I said that, blady hell the sun will freeze over.

  15. @bchanakira2:

    Particularly under the mentoring of the tough as nails Hodgson/McCalman/Alcock… this trio with Stander have been immense this season… both the two formers winning their place back into Wallabies squad…

  16. @bryce_in_oz: they have. I have a fear the Australian team may just surprise in the Championship i mean they have grown individually but i await Ewen to gel them. #trouble