SUPER RUGBY SEMI-FINALS
Crusaders v Chiefs
In my opinion the four best teams in the competition are deservedly in the semi-finals, including these two teams.
The Crusaders were incredible in the wet last week shutting out the Highlanders completely who couldn't score a point. Their defensive game was fierce and they really dominated, particularly in the forwards. The Chiefs meanwhile had a very stop start game against the Stormers. The skill level was pretty poor between both teams and no momentum was gained by either side. They eventually came out winners 17-11.
The Chiefs had the same route to the semi-final last year having to travel over to South Africa and take on the Stormers then back to New Zealand, last year they suffered a 25-9 point loss in their semi-final to the Hurricanes. No one has gone from South African and back to New Zealand and won a playoff match in almost 20 years.
Crusaders beat the Chiefs this year 31-24 but the Chiefs have previously won the 4 games before that. The Chiefs have only lost 1 away game all year while the Crusaders are unbeaten at home in Super Rugby this season.
In my opinion the Chiefs have sort of just grinded their way into the playoffs this year, they deserve to be there but unlike the other three teams left in the competition, they haven't been flashy or hammered teams this season. There biggest winning margin this season against a side is 29 points against the Reds and their highest score this season is in that same game 46 points. The Crusaders have bettered 46 points in 4 games this season.
Both teams have conceded 303 points across 16 games this season, where the difference is, is in the attack. The Crusaders have scored 111 more points than the Chiefs this season averaging 35 points per game to the Chiefs 28.
I think the Crusaders win this one; they seem to be a tight cohesive unit this year under the guidance of Razor Robertson. The Chiefs travel factor is a big one too. I'm picking the Crusaders to beat the spread.
Lions v Hurricanes
Two very similar teams, both like to throw the pill around and score plenty of points. These two clashed in last years final and the Hurricanes came out on top in that one. The Lions got through with a 55m penalty goal with a couple of minutes remaining to beat the Sharks, the only time they were ahead in the match. While the Hurricanes looked shaky in the first half but came out on top after a second half dominant performance against the Brumbies.
The Lions are somewhat of an unknown this season as they haven't had to play any New Zealand sides. They've amassed 613 points to the Hurricanes 631 and conceded 289 to the Hurricanes 288. Very similar statistics, though the not playing NZ teams would have more of an effect on those stats I would imagine.
Only 4 of 11 matches has a New Zealand team successfully won a playoff match in South Africa, so it is a pretty hard place to travel. The Lions are currently on a 13 match winning streak as well, they've looked a little tired in the last two games against the Sharks but the same could be said about the Hurricanes performances, particularly in the first half of the last two games.
The Canes have a strong record against the Lions, they've beaten them on the previous 8 occasions. The Hurricanes have averaged 45 points per game against South African teams this season with an average winning margin of 29 points (they played Cheetahs, Bulls and Stormers).
I like the Hurricanes to win this one, I think the fact that the Lions haven't played a NZ team this season is a big one. The Stormers were in the same position last year having not played a NZ team in the regular season and were then trounced 60-21 to the Chiefs in last years semi-final. I don't expect it to be that big of score line but I expect the Hurricanes to get up late.
RESULTS STAKES ROI Final +3 3 100% Semi Finals -0.77 6.5 -12% Quarter Finals +2.94 9 33% Week Seventeen -1.2 11 -11% Week Sixteen -3.3 9 -37% Week Fifteen +0.52 19.5 3% Week Fourteen -16 16 -100% Week Thirteen +3.81 13.5 28% Week Twelve +2.71 17.5 15% Week Eleven -2.9 11 -26% Week Ten -0.35 14 -3% Week Nine -5.52 13 -42% Week Eight +6.77 12 56% Week Seven +7.8 9 87% Week Six +15.46 13 119% Week Five +1.61 10 16% Week Four -2.24 8 -28% Week Three -10 10 -100% Week Two +4.9 8 61% Week One -4.15 13.5 -31% Futures +5.7 10 57% Total +8.79 226.5 4%