Super Rugby Semifinal Analysis

in #steemsports7 years ago (edited)

SteemSports Presenter: @sportsdesk

SteemSports General Manager: Nolan Jacobson, @theprophet0


The Chiefs travel back from Cape Town to take on the Crusaders in Chch. The weather forecast is better in Chch this week so expect a faster paced game. The Chiefs like to move the ball and are very adept on the counter-attack. The Crusaders will look to use their All Black forward pack to dominate up front and build on a very good defensive record.
The Hurricanes travel from Canberra to Jo’burg for a repeat of last year’s final. In dry conditions on the high veldt it promises to be a high tempo game. Both sides favour an expansive game so there should be plenty of ball movement.

Crusaders vs Chiefs

For the first 10 minutes the Chiefs made all the play, assisted by some poor and aimless Crusader kicking. In the 12th min the Crusaders first foray into the Chiefs half asked questions of the defense, eventually winning a penalty for offside with the line beckoning. Crusaders 3-0.
Several minutes later the Crusaders changed tactics and kept the ball in hand, producing a great counter attacking try from 60m out. Bryn Hall scored, Mo’unga converted. 10-0.
The Chiefs were quickly back on attack, creating a sweeping movement with a kick through that Nanai-Williams appeared to have scored. However the TMO judged he didn’t have control of the ball so no try. The Chiefs continued to press, earning a couple of penalties which McKenzie converted. 10-6.
The Chiefs dominated the first half in all aspects but the scoreboard. The Chiefs had 75% plus of possession and territory, were relentless on attack but failed to crack the Crusaders defence. The Crusaders scored the only try and were outstanding on defense.
The second half continued on from where from first had finished with the Chiefs continuing to be hot on attack. The Crusaders defense though was up to the challenge, and it was defensive pressure that led to a second try for the Crusaders against the run of play. In a bizarre moment the ball was knocked from Lowe’s grasp as he went to kick, landing in Israel Dagg’s hands who dotted down over the chalk. 15-6.
The Chiefs continued on attack but increasing Crusader defensive pressure forced another turnover and the Crusaders quickly counter-attacked, nearly scoring but for a Ngatai intercept at a crucial moment. The Crusaders started to get more possession as the Chiefs heavy travel schedule maybe started to catch up with them. With more ball the Crusaders turned to attack, a chip kick and gather by Taumanivalu almost resulted in a try with him held up over the line. From the ensuing scrum though nothing was stopping Taumanivalu as a slick Crusaders move gave him room to crash over in a couple of tackles. Mo’unga converted. 22-6.
The Chiefs threw everything into it but the Crusaders defence was impenetrable. For every Chiefs attack there was a red wall on defence. The Chiefs noticeably tired in the last 20 and as they did the Crusaders got more ball and more attacking opportunities. One such attack led to another Crusaders try as Taumanivalu crashed over for his second try. Mo’unga missed from wide-out. 27-6.
The Chiefs never gave up and in the 78th minute scored their first try to Retallick following a multi- phase attack. McKenzie converted. Crusaders 27-13.
This was a game built on a dominant, unrelenting defence and the pressure that it created. The Chiefs gave everything they had and were in good positions to score on many occasions but the Crusaders defence scrambled well when required and was simply too strong. Equally this defence was used to create pressure to then create scoring opportunities. The difference being the Crusaders made the most of their opportunities and were clinical in execution.
A few game stats (Crusaders/Chiefs)… possession 35%/65%, territory 36%/64%, carries 75/176, tackles 185/66, rucks 49/132, but most crucial tries 4/1. So all that remained was whether the final would be in Chch or Jo’burg? That was determined in the other semi-final played a few hours later.

Lions vs Hurricanes

The Hurricanes started strong and were full of intent, putting the hosts under pressure. The Lions got an early penalty but from the restart Hurricanes pressure allowed Perenara to kick through a loose ball and score. The conversion from out wide was missed. Hurricanes 5-3.
Three minutes later the Hurricanes are back on attack following a lineout move. B Barrett ghosts through a gap out wide and sets up Goosen for the Hurricanes second try. J Barrett converts. 12-3. The Hurricanes continued to attack, camped in the Lions half. The Lions made silly errors putting themselves under further pressure. Eventually the Lions defence cracks following another Lions error and A Savea scores under the sticks. 22-3.
Following a period on attack just prior to the break, Lions prop van Rooyen scored a critical try to reduce the deficit. 22-10. The first half was all Hurricanes, they could have easily scored another couple of tries so numerous were their opportunities. Had they done so the game would have been out of the Lions reach. The Lions for their part just hung in there, not helping their cause with multiple errors. However the score just on halftime reducing the deficit to 12 was crucial for their chances. The Ellis Park witch doctor must have visited the Lions room at halftime with a magic potion as they emerged a totally different team in the second 40 minutes. After four minutes they were over the chalk following a rolling maul from a lineout. Cronje scores, Jantjies converts. 22-17.
Nine minutes later the Lions are over again following a break down field. Marx scores to level the game. 22-22. The Hurricanes aren’t done yet as good work at the breakdown eventually sees Laumape go over. J Barrett converts. 29-22. Then the inevitable controversial moment. B Barrett is sinbinned for not rolling away at a ruck. It seemed a very harsh call but Peyper justified his decision and the Hurricanes are reduced to 14 men for the next 10 minutes.
It all then unravelled for the Hurricanes. Tries to Vorster, Jantjies and Smith in the next 16 minutes ended any hopes the Hurricanes had of reaching another super rugby final. The Lions ran riot in the last 20 minutes, always a difficult period for visitors playing at the altitude of Ellis Park. Final score 44-29 to the Lions.
This was a game of the proverbial two halves. The Hurricanes owned the first half, playing with great speed and intent and in reality should’ve had more points but failed to take all their chances. Whatever happened in the Lions changing shed at halftime needs to be patented. They were a different beast in the second half, scoring tries at will. In that type of form they looked unstoppable and in the end deserved winners.
So we now have a final fittingly consisting of the two highest scoring teams in the round-robin. The Crusaders must make the long trek to Jo’burg as they finished with two less points than the Lions. The Crusaders have won their last two games on heavy tracks where they have been able to impose their defensive patterns and exert pressure. Whether they will be able to do the same on a dry track in the afternoon sun of Jo’burg remains to be seen. The Lions favour a free flowing style and will be looking to eliminate a lot of the silly errors that have crept into their game in recent weeks. The Crusaders will look to control the game and be clinical when opportunities present. The Lions will look to do what they do best – attack. Who will blink first?

Semifinal Results

Crusaders vs Chiefs 27-13

Lions vs Hurricanes 44-29

Final Match-up

Lions vs Crusaders, Jo’burg, Sat 5 Aug 16.00 (local)


Nice commentary @steemsports ...... you have described every moment clear and emotionalize us...

Nice summary! Should be a great final. Most teams struggle with the sheer physicality of the Crusaders forwards but I think the Lions are one team that can deal with this. They will just need to cut out the mistakes (easier said than done under breakdown pressure!). For a final in NZ I would go with the Crusaders but with the long trip to Joburg I feel it's on a knife-edge!

I agree miniature-tiger. The Lions are a tremendous side & at Ellis Park virtually unbeatable. If one team can on current form it's the Crusaders but it's a huge ask.

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Unity and cohesion in maintaining the relationship is necessary. Teams must be well organized. Victory will come true.

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Crusaders were better. I love them.

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