Super Rugby Quarterfinal Analysis

in #steemsports7 years ago

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Eight is reduced to four as the Super Rugby quarterfinals are completed. There were no surprise results though a couple of the games were on the edge. In the end the teams with the highest number of points from the round-robin stage progressed so the cream has risen to the top. Here’s a brief analysis of each quarter-final.

Brumbies vs Hurricanes

The Brumbies were quick out of the blocks, scoring two tries in the opening 20 minutes. In reply the Hurricanes had scored a wonderful try to Wes Goosen from a lineout 15m out. After 20 minutes the score was Brumbies 13-5. The Brumbies had surprised the Hurricanes, rolling out a more expansive game and putting on the heat. By half-time the score was Brumbies 16-15 following another Hurricanes try and one penalty a piece. The Brumbies scrum had put the Hurricanes under pressure on occasions, though overall honours were shared with neither team asserting any real authority.
The second half was a different game. The Hurricanes emerged from the tunnel intent on taking the game by the scruff of its neck. They totally dominated territory and possession, mixing up strong forward surges through the middle and sweeping side to side backline movements with tactical kicking to keep the Brumbies under constant pressure. The Brumbies defence was strong but was eventually worn down by the continuity of the Hurricanes attack, particularly down the blindside. Once fatigue set in the Hurricanes were able to seal the game with two more tries in the last 11 minutes.
The Hurricanes had won ugly as they say and Hurricane teams of the past may have panicked unable to get their expansive game going. This set of Hurricanes though were prepared to roll up their sleeves and do whatever was required to win. Final score 35-16.

Crusaders vs Highlanders

Played in treacherous conditions, 24 hours of rainfall prior to the match in Christchurch with continuing rain during the match made life pretty tough for the players and spectators alike. A good kicking game was paramount in these conditions and for the first 20 minutes the Crusaders won this battle. Lineout issues didn’t help the Highlanders cause either though Crusaders handling lapses helped to balance the ledger. The territory and possession for the Crusaders, 80% both, finally paid dividends as they got over the chalk in the 26th minute. Ten minutes later a classic lineout drive had the Crusaders over again virtually unopposed but for the referee who deemed the ball held up. From the ensuing scrum however the Crusaders got their try, converted by Mo’unga to lead 17-0 at halftime.
No improvement in conditions for the second half. The Highlanders worked their way back into the game with more possession and territory but in reality the second half became a battle of attrition in the mud. Excellent Crusaders defence gave the Highlanders no opportunity and the only scoring chance of the half was a missed penalty attempt from Mo’unga. The conditions meant the game was a real slog, not allowing either side to showcase their great running skills. The Crusaders took total control in the first half accumulating all their points during that period. The Highlanders tried to get back in the game in the second half but the Crusaders applied constant pressure on defence and all the Highlanders efforts came to nought. Final score 17-0.

Lions vs Sharks

In bright mid-afternoon sunshine at Ellis Park, Jo’burg, the Lions started strongly on their home patch and took the lead after 11 minutes with a Jantjies penalty goal, having missed a penalty attempt two minutes earlier. The Sharks bounced back after the Lions made a mess of a lineout on halfway allowing du Preez to send Van Wyk away to dot down in the corner. The game failed to flow as the Lions particularly continued to make unforced errors. The Sharks added an easy drop goal and two penalties before half-time while Jantjies missed another easy kick. The half-time score was 14-3 to the visitors and an upset was on the cards.
The Lions upped the tempo in the second half and following concerted pressure Sharks lock Lewies was sent to the bin after repeated infringements. The Lions immediately took advantage, scoring following a strong scrum and again four minutes later. Jantjies missed both conversions. The Lions continued to apply pressure and a quick penalty tap in the 60th minute caught the Sharks unaware allowing Mapoe over for another try. Jantjies converted, Lions led 20-14. The Sharks weren’t done yet and continued pressure led to a try from a rolling maul in the 68th minute. Bosch converted, Sharks 21-20. The Lions desperately pushed forward, missed an easy penalty attempt from 22m but then the local hero Combrink stepped up to slot a 55m penalty with only two minutes remaining.
The Lions should have won more comfortably but Jantjies had a poor kicking day leaving 13 points on the park. The Sharks were immense on defence and capitalised on Lions mistakes which kept them in the game. It wasn’t a game that reached great heights (other than being played at 1700m) but the Lions have been the best South African side in the competition and it would’ve been an upset for them not to advance. They now face a stiffer challenge in the form of the Hurricanes who must travel from Canberra. Final score 23-21.

Stormers vs Chiefs

Played at Newlands, Cape Town this was a nervy affair, both for fans and players. The Stormers started strong but lacked the required execution at vital times. Both teams took time to settle and the first points weren’t scored until the 24th minute when Marais kicked a penalty for the Stormers. The Chiefs had the better of the second 20 minutes, asserting some authority with driving forward play keeping them camped in the Stormers half. Dogged defence from the Stormers kept their line intact but the Chiefs managed three penalty kicks to lead 9-3 at half-time.
The Stormers opened the second half on attack and were rewarded after multiple phases when captain Kolisi crashed over for a try. The game continued to be stop-start, littered with errors as neither side was able to gain the ascendancy. In the 60th minute there was a controversial yellow card to Chiefs captain Cane for a high shot. Initially ref Peyper thought it a head clash until TMO convinced him it was a yellow after much convincing. Marias kicked another penalty to reduce the lead to one, and when Cane returned the Chiefs worked their way down field and a marvellous cut-out pass by Cruden allowed Stevenson to cross in the corner in the 76th minute. The Chiefs held on for a hard fought win.
This was a game that never reached great heights with too many unforced errors. Both teams defended well but were rarely able to get their attack going. Not a game for the ages but the Chiefs will take the win along with the long trek back to NZ for a semi-final clash against the Crusaders in Christchurch. Final score 17-11.

Quarterfinal Results

Brumbies vs Hurricanes 16-35
Crusaders vs Highlanders 17-0
Lions vs Sharks 23-21
Stormers vs Chiefs 17-11

Semifinal Matchups

Crusaders vs Chiefs, Christchurch, Sat 29 July 19.35 (local)
Lions vs Hurricanes, Jo’burg, Sat 29 July 14.30 (local)

I think this highlights where worldwide rugby is at... Australian teams are really struggling and NZ teams are going on there merry way, which is displayed in their national team... In Aus, state rugby is becoming less prevalent in news...

True but not just Australia, S African teams except the Lions have struggled also. It will be interesting to see how the super rugby form transfers into the international season during the Rugby Championship. I don't believe Australia or S Africa will have their european players available.

South Africa is always struggling because of couching period. What is really strange is that two teams the cheetahs and western force are being kicked out and they will be playing in Europe's Pro12. I am looking forward to that but it is still weird to see them play in a different tournament.

You mean the cheetahs & kings? I didn't know they would be playing in europe but same/similar timezone makes sense. The Australians are potentially facing legal battles to cull a side as Force & Rebels dig their heels in. & then they have their striking cricketers to deal with...

Kings yes how could I mix that up.

@maite hello spanish 😊

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