Super Rugby preview: Semis

    2013-07-24 11:31

    Jamie Hosie

    Cape Town - As Super Rugby draws ever-nearer to its conclusion, who will be victorious in this weekend's semi-finals?


    Chiefs v Crusaders, Hamilton - 09:35

    It goes without saying that both the semi-finals will be tight, but this one is particularly difficult to call. The Crusaders are in imperious form, having not lost since May 24 when they went down to... the Chiefs, of course! That game, like this one, was in Hamilton, but when the Chiefs visited Christchurch more recently, they were handed a 43-15 drubbing.

    The incumbent champions have had a week off by virtue of being top of the NZ Conference, which reflects how well they have played throughout the season. The Crusaders started slowly but have been looking supremely dangerous lately, as evidenced by their comfortable 29-point (38-9) win over the Reds in their playoff qualifier last weekend.

    Despite the game being in Hamilton, the Crusaders are looking too strong at the moment and will sneak a pulsating NZ derby.

    Prediction: Crusaders by 4

    Bulls v Brumbies, Pretoria - 17:05

    The Bulls were brought crashing back down to earth in the last game of the regular season as their nine-game winning streak was brought to an abrupt end by the Stormers. That said, they already knew they were in the semi-finals at that point. This week they have been passed a clean bill of health (longer-term casualties aside), meaning Jan Serfontein, Flip van der Merwe and Francois Hougaard have all been cleared to play.

    The Brumbies were nervy in their qualifier, sneaking past the Cheetahs 15-13 on home soil and relying on the boot of Christian Lealiifano in the process.

    This week they find themselves in South Africa, and despite having beaten the Bulls earlier in the season, that game was in Canberra. Since the British & Irish Lions series, they have lacked the fluency of earlier in the season and will need it back to overcome the Bulls.

    It’s another extremely difficult one to call - and don’t expect a hugely open game - but at home the Bulls should prevail.

    Prediction: Bulls by 3
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