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Super Rugby Review: Semifinals

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Saturday, July 29, 2017    Lynn McConnell    Getty Images

Having shown no effects from not having played New Zealand sides in the 2017 before Saturday's semifinal the Lions now must face the side who until the last round of the regular competition were unbeaten.

QUICK TAP: STUNNING LIONS SECOND HALF ENDS HURRICANES REIGN

The challenge for the Crusaders, the competition's most decorated side, is to do what no-one else has done, cross the Indian Ocean to win a final.

Semifinal One

If there was one lesson to come out of the Crusaders' 27–13 win over the Chiefs at AMI Stadium, it was that you don't always have to dominate the ball to win.

The Chiefs enjoyed a significant dominance of possession and territory but couldn't crack the tenacious defence of the home team where flanker Matt Todd led the charge with a superb tackling effort.

For a team that was struggling for consistent possession, the Crusaders made the most of what opportunities they received to score four tries to a 78th minute effort which was scant reward for the Chiefs.

It was the end of an era for the Chiefs with coach Dave Rennie leaving for overseas along with assistant coach Kieran Keane while players Aaron Cruden, Tawera Kerr-Barlow and James Lowe are all heading off shore as well.

The Crusaders showed the quality of their all-round game and the confidence, and luck, that created was evident when wing Israel Dagg scored after first five-eighths Richie Mo'unga knocked the ball out of Lowe's hands before he could make a clearing kick. The ball lobbed to Dagg and he crossed to put the game beyond issue.



Semifinal Two

Losing their shape in the second half proved costly for the Hurricanes as they allowed the Lions to rebuild their shattered confidence after the Hurricanes got out to a 22-3 lead.

That rebuilding was based squarely around their lineout drive from penalties that were conceded too often by the defending Super Rugby champions.

It didn't help that first five-eighths and kingpin Beauden Barrett was sin-binned and it was in his absence that the Lions achieved their winning advantage by scoring two tries and a penalty goal. By the time he returned it was only ever going to be some extraordinary bad luck that was going to deny a home team that was in rampant mood and sensing the right to host a final.