Super Rugby Semi Finals preview panel
Preview of Super Rugby Semi Finals (all times AEST).
FRIDAY, July 27
Chiefs v Crusaders at Waikato Stadium, Hamilton 5.35pm
Head to Head: Played 19 Chiefs 5 Crusaders 14
In Hamilton: Played 8 Chiefs 2 Crusaders 6
Last clash: Round 17 2012 – Crusaders 28 bt Chiefs 21 at Waikato Stadium
Mouth-watering match-up after the Chiefs and Crusaders split the points during the regular season. The Chiefs topped the New Zealand Conference but have hit the brakes since the June Test window. This could potentially be Sonny Bill Williams’ last rugby match in New Zealand before his move to Japan and the NRL, and the Chiefs superstar will be looking for a huge performance against his former side. The Crusaders will be without Kieran Read, but have really warmed to the task in recent weeks to the point where they’re the bookies’ favourites. The Crusaders haven’t won seven Super Rugby titles for nothing and they’re a fearsome side to face when everything is on the line. The match-up between Dan Carter and Aaron Cruden at No.10 will be decisive.
Tab Sportsbet: Chiefs $2.40 Crusaders $1.55
Tip: Crusaders by 5 points
SUNDAY, July 29
Stormers v Sharks at Newlands Rugby Stadium, Cape Town 1.05am
Head to Head: Played 18 Stormers 9 Sharks 9
In Cape Town: Played 8 Stormers 5 Sharks 3
Last clash: Round 14 2012 – Sharks 25 bt Stormers 20 at ABSA Stadium
Fresh from knocking off defending champions Queensland in Brisbane last weekend, there’s a feeling the Sharks could be the giant killers of the Super Rugby playoffs. They’re in excellent form and if they can overcome the back-and-forth travel, winning in Cape Town isn’t beyond them. The Stormers deservedly finished on top of the South African Conference and have proven very difficult to beat in a tight contest. It’s the Sharks’ challenge to make the Stormers play open rugby. The Stormers defence is rock solid and if this match turns into a penalty shoot-out, they’ll be too good off the boot of Peter Grant. But despite boasting Springboks Bryan Habana, Jean de Villiers, Juan de Jongh and Gio Aplon in their backline, the boys from the western province have struggled to put points on the board in 2012 and if the Sharks can get away early, like they did against the Reds, they’ll take some beating.
Tab Sportsbet: Stormers $1.50 Sharks $2.50
Tip: Sharks by 1 point© AAP 2013
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