And then there were four. The 2017 Super Rugby season has been full of drama and unexpected twists, both on and off-field, however, the semi-final climax stage of the tournament is in full effect this weekend as the Lions take on the Hurricanes, and the Crusaders battle the Chiefs, in order to see who will play the final.
Lions v Hurricanes
An unchanged Lions side will aim to reach their second successive Super Rugby final when they host their final rivals from 2016, the Hurricanes, at Ellis Park on Saturday. Should the Lions emerge victorious, they will host next week’s Final, but it’ll take a far better performance this weekend than that against the Sharks last weekend. The Lions lacked their defensive strength and attacking flair, and will need to reinject that into their gameplan if they’re to subdue a Hurricanes side looking to go back-to-back. While still missing the precense of captain Warren Whiteley, the Lions have a full strength side, whose bench will play a pivotal role once more. The Hurricanes welcome back to notable Dane Coles, who will start in his 100th Super Rugby appearance.
Our prediction: The Hurricanes have been in sublime form this season, but the Lions have made the error of underestimating their opponents last season. With a strong starting XV and a powerful bench, the Lions should have enough to edge their Kiwi counterparts at Ellis Park. Lions by 7.
Crusaders vs Chiefs:
The Crusaders will be the undoubted favourites in Christchurch against a Chiefs side who’ve travelled back from a tough win over the Stormers in Cape Town last weekend. Despite the singular loss to the Hurricanes in the final round of normal play, the Crusaders have been the best team in the competition, and have opted to remain unchanged for the Chiefs. All the big names are present, but the Chiefs have their own superstars that can cause headaches for any world-class defence.
Our prediction: The Chiefs are the most unpredictable and exciting team in the competition, but the wear and tear from the travel and tough quarter-final could prove too much for them. At home, and in great form, the Crusaders are likely to topple the Hamilton side this time around. Crusaders by 5.