After two local derbys in the semi-finals on the weekend, the protagonists for the 2012 Super XV final have been found, with the Sharks adding to their extensive collection of Frequent Flyer points as they head to Hamilton to meet the Chiefs.
While the Chiefs had won the New Zealand conference and had the home-ground advantage they found themselves listed as underdogs when they hosted the Crusaders in semi-final number one, the Cantabrian’s reputation as play-off specialists obviously preceding them.
Indeed, it was a reputation the Red & Blacks failed to live up to, producing an uninspiring, error-laden performance to …
As the Crusaders, um, crusaded through to the semi-finals of the 2012 Super Rugby competition last weekend against the Bulls they looked very much like title contenders.
After grinding out a win on the back of some confusing refereeing decisions against the Chiefs two weeks earlier, and having the lowly Force in their last competition round, it wasn’t clear whether the seven time champs did have a genuine shot at the title. But the Bulls game showed the big red machine is in full post-season swing.
What was particularly interesting was that the physical game plan they knew they would …
Super Rugby always takes on a brutal edge as the playoffs loom, and 2012 is no different. Nine sides are technically still vying for a playoff spot and none will be going down without a fight. Epic clashes this weekend includes the Chiefs v Crusaders opener and Sharks v Bulls. However, Reds v Highlanders and Brumbies v Waratahs are all sure to have venom.
The Crusaders will be a wounded beast after last week’s shock loss to the Hurricanes and on the cusp of missing out on the playoffs altogether. The Chiefs, having secured the top NZ spot but wanting …
Crusaders v Chiefs
Israel Dagg, Adam Whitelock, Robbie Fruean, Ryan Crotty, Zac Guildford, Dan Carter, Andy Ellis, Kieran Read, Richie McCaw (captain), George Whitelock, Sam Whitelock, Luke Romano, Ben Franks, Corey Flynn, Owen Franks.
Reserves: Quentin MacDonald, Wyatt Crockett, Tom Donnelly, Matt Todd, Willi Heinz, Tom Taylor, Sean Maitland.
Robbie Robinson, Tim Nanai-Williams, Andrew Horrell, Sonny Bill Williams, Asaeli Tikoirotuma, Aaron Cruden, Tawera Kerr-Barlow, Alex Bradley, Sam Cane, Liam Messam, Brodie Retallick, Craig Clarke (captain), Ben Tameifuna, Mahonri Schwalger, Sona Taumalolo.
Reserves: Hika Elliot, Toby Smith, Romana Graham, Tanerau Latimer, Brendon Leonard, Jackson Willison, Lelia Masaga.…
With the round-robin phase of the Super XV drawing to an end and teams clamouring for a spot in the play-offs it’s becoming increasingly evident that finishing higher up the table may not necessarily be beneficial.
With the conference system in operation, one team from each country is guaranteed a place in the top three. The Chiefs (on 62 points currently) and the Stormers (58) will almost certainly finish in the top two positions, meaning an Australian side, either the Brumbies or the Reds, will finish third.
The Chiefs and Stormers will be rewarded for their success with a bye, …