THE LINE-UP FOR the 2014 Super Rugby semi finals has been confirmed after two breathless, brilliant qualifier matches in Canberra and Durban.
The ACT Brumbies gained a measure of revenge over The Chiefs for last season’s Grand final defeat by beating them 27-25 at the GIO Stadium while the Sharks came back from 17-13 down against the Highlanders to win 31-27. The Brumbies’ win sets up an All-Australian semi-final against the Waratahs while South Africa’s remaining team will travel to Christchurch to take on New Zealand’s — the Crusaders.
Brumbies and Chiefs served up a classic in the first of Saturday’s knock-out games. The hosts led 22-3 at one stage, with their pack eviscerating that of the reigning champs. However, tries from Tim Nanai-Williams and Connacht-bound Bundee Aki soon had the Kiwis level at 25-25.
Stephen Larkham’s side responded with a bristling, rolling maul that Jarrad Butler scored from but there was still time for a late try from Chiefs’ Gareth Anscombe. He dived over in the right-hand corner but Aaron Cruden missed the conversion that would have sent the game into extra time.Source: NZAUTV Rugby Union/YouTube
Over at Kings Park Stadium, later in the afternoon, the Sharks’ pack were key in seeing off a Highlanders team that scored three fantastic tries but still fell short. The home side started the strongest and a Marcell Coetzee try had them ahead before Highlanders centre Malakai Fekitoa went on a solo run that ended with a superb score.
The visitors were not finished yet and hit the front on the stroke of half-time as they went from one end of the pitch to the other and eventually slipped in loose-head prop Kane Hames to score.
Sharks struck back, after the break, with a blitzing try of their own as substitute Tonderai Chavhanga took a blindside pass and sprinted up the left wing to dive over. Highlanders were not finished yet as Patrick Osbourne’s line break and offload set teammate Phil Burleigh for a simple score. The Sharks regrouped and forced two penalties in the last eight minutes that Frans Steyn knocked over to see his side home.Source: NZAUTV Rugby Union/YouTube
Crusaders take on Sharks in Christchurch next weekend while Michael Cheika’s Waratahs entertain the Brumbies.