Chiefs win, Bulls kicked out of final

2013-07-28 14:00

Hamilton men win a third semifinal.

Tevita Kuridrani’s 78th-minute try silenced the Loftus Versfeld faithful as the Brumbies stole a deserved 26-23 win in their Super Rugby semifinal against the Bulls yesterday.

In the process, the Brumbies have booked themselves a final date with the Chiefs in Hamilton, which will be their first final since they hosted the 2004 Super 12 final, where they beat the Crusaders 47-33 in Canberra.

In beating the Bulls, they became the first Australian side to win a play-off away from home, which is a distinction usually marked out for the Crusaders and the Highlanders, who were the only teams to have won semifinals in South Africa.

The game will ultimately be remembered for captain Dewald Potgieter’s spurning of three kickable penalties, which could have given the Bulls daylight.

It came back to haunt him.

The Chiefs produced a 17-point burst inside 11 minutes in the second half to eke out a tense victory over the Crusaders in Hamilton yesterday, gaining a place in next week’s Super Rugby final.

By virtue of finishing top of the table, they will host their second final against the Brumbies.

The 2012 champions’ winger Lelia Masaga barged over early in the second half, while fly half Aaron Cruden pounced on a wayward pass from Ryan Crotty to score an intercept try. Cruden added two penalties and two conversions.

Crusaders fly half Daniel Carter slotted four penalties and converted fullback Israel Dagg’s sensational try for the visitors.

No New Zealand team has lost a Super Rugby semifinal at home and the Chiefs also won the corresponding fixture in Hamilton last year.

The Chiefs had earlier been routed by the Crusaders 43-15 in their round robin match.

It was a game where the Chiefs were practically blown out of the water and had people questioning their championship credentials.

But in this key game, they again found an extra gear, winning their third semifinal.

Their forwards, who had folded during that fateful night in Christchurch, more than made up for their aberration with a united and clinical display yesterday.

To beat the Crusaders in any game, the forwards having a good game is a prerequisite.

The Crusaders, though, are starting to earn themselves a choker nickname, failing to get past the semifinal stage now for the fourth time in five years.

They last won the Super Rugby competition in 2008 under Robbie Deans.

But the Chiefs were hardly bovine in their approach, attempting to play the match at a frenetic pace and negating any tussle at the breakdown with their players charging well.

But the Crusaders soaked up the pressure and ensured that when they got into Chiefs territory, they came away with points as Carter slotted three first-half penalties.

The visitors also unsettled the Chiefs’ set pieces, stealing five line-out throws and forcing 15 turnovers in the first 40?minutes.

»?On Friday, in Port Elizabeth, the Lions moved one step closer to regaining their Super Rugby status, edging out the Southern Kings 26-19. To proceed, the Kings will have to ensure they win big, because if the teams end tied, then points difference will be used to settle the tie.

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