Crusaders vs Hurricanes
Just as some expected, both the Crusaders and Hurricanes won their matches and advanced to the semi-finals. Some have even claimed that this match will determine who wins the final next week as these were the two best sides in the league this season.
The Crusaders won easily against the Sharks as the final score was 40-10. The Crusaders showed why they were the best squad in Super Rugby as they got five tries from five different players (Bryn Hall, David Havili, Matt Todd, Braydon Ennor, and Peter Samu) and allowed only one try and one penalty kick. Richie Mo’unga converted on three of his point after attempts and nailed three penalty kicks.
The Hurricanes won over the Chiefs 32-31, but that score line was a little deceiving as the Hurricanes towards the end of the match made it mathematically impossible for the Chiefs to win. Hurricanes got two tries from TJ Perenara and one from Ben Lam and Julian Savea (in the first minute of the contest) each. Beauden Barrett converted on two of his point after attempts and nailed two penalty kicks while Jordie Barrett converted a point after attempt as well.
The Crusaders and Hurricanes each won a match in the two contests that were played against one another this 2018 campaign with the Crusaders winning most recently in Week 15. The Hurricanes are only one of the two teams in the league to defeat the Crusaders this year so it could make for an epic clash. These were the two best sides in 2018, but the Hurricanes have had experience playing the Crusaders as they played in the same conference and defeating them already could give them some insight of how to beat them. Because of that, it could be a very interesting matchup to watch.
James Rowe: Crusaders. While I like the Hurricanes, the Crusaders are just so good and they have won 12 matches, including last week, in a row while the Hurricanes are just coming off a rough patch.
Lions vs Waratahs
The Lions played a close one against the Jaguares last week, but they pulled away late with a 40-23 victory. The Lions got tries from Andries Coetzee, Malcolm Marx, Harold Vorster, and Ruan Combrinck, but the story of the match was Elton Jantjies who converted on all four point after attempts, chipped in three penalty kicks, and even scored a drop kick as he accumulated 20 points, half of what the team put on the board.
The Waratahs edged out a very good Highlanders side 30-23 to advance to the Semi-Finals. Bernard Foley had one of the matches in his career as he scored two tries, converted all three point after attempts, and chipped in three penalty kicks while Israel Folau also scored a try. The Waratahs defense was better than it had been all season as they allowed only two tries.
If the Waratahs want to keep up their run to the final, their defense has to continue being superb as the Lions do have a good offense especially with Jantjies playing as well as he did last week. Stopping him might be the key for the Waratahs if they plan on advancing. However, the two squads met in Week 10 with the Lions winning 29-0. While that was long ago, that could hint at what type of match that is played.
James: Lions. I just think the Lions have more talent on their roster and the Waratahs defense is always suspect. However, the game will hinge on whether the Waratahs defense can shut the Lions down and if Jantjies can continue his hot play.