The Blues and Crusaders both got off to slow starts in their quarter final matches, but went on to record impressive victories over the Waratahs and the Sharks. The Waratahs limped into the quarters with a huge injury toll, losing their entire front row and halves pairing. Many of the players who took the field were held together with bandages, particular retirement-bound Phil Waugh. However, they put up a good fight but were never going to be strong enough to take out the Blues. The Blues showed nothing against the crippled Waratahs to suggest they would be able to take out the table topping Reds at a jam-packed Suncorp Stadium. The Reds are welcoming back players like Digby Ioane so while the Blues might have the measure upfront, the Reds will likely have way too much class in the backs.
The Sharks showed the effects of their flight from South Africa by starting strong against the Crusaders but eventually fading and losing by a large margin. Sharks captain Stefan Terblanche showed his class by giving his support for what the Crusaders have been able to do despite their earthquake hit season and sending his best wishes to the people of Christchurch. Earlier this season the Sharks agreed to a match at Twickenham to help the Crusaders out financially, which all goes to show the camaraderie that still exists in rugby union. All that said, travelling to and winning against the Stormers at Newlands will be another tall order in a season of tall orders for the Crusaders. It should be one fairy tale too far for the travelling Crusader circus.
If the results reflect table rankings, not to mention the Reds and Stormers coming fresh off a bye, this will be the last weekend for New Zealand rugby teams. Should that occur, New Zealand rugby will be disappointed to not have any teams in the final, but would be satisfied with having two teams in the top four.
Semi Final 1: Reds v Blues
REDS to beat Blues by 11
Semi Final 2: Stormers v Crusaders:
STORMERS to beat Crusaders by 6