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Super Rugby Pacific, semifinals - teams and predictions

PREVIEW: It is all systems go as the top four teams battle it out for the Super Rugby Pacific title.


The action begins in Auckland on Friday as the Blues host the Brumbies at Eden Park.

It’s a rematch of the 2022 semifinal where the Blues hung on for a one-point victory after a late Noah Lolesio drop goal was charged down.

It is followed by the top-ranked Hurricanes taking on the Chiefs in Wellington.

The Hurricanes are coming off a physical win over the Melbourne Rebels whilst a first-half blitz delivered the win for the Chiefs over the Queensland Reds.

*Article continues below…

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Saturday’s semifinal will be the 46th time the Hurricanes and Chiefs go head-to-head.

The Hurricanes have been in form throughout the season and playing in front of their home crowd in Wellington will be an extra advantage in the hotly-contested New Zealand derby.

The Hurricanes were made to work hard in the quarters, as the Melbourne Rebels held out valiantly in the first half before the Hurricanes prevailed seven tries to two.

“The Rebels really came out and took it to us with their physicality which is what we had expected,” Hurricanes coach Clark Laidlaw said.


“The Chiefs will provide another tough challenge for us, and one we are excited for.

“There’s a level of excitement in the group, another week for us to improve and grow together, and put out a performance for our fans, which we can all be proud of.

“The energy that our fans bring to Our House, gives the team that extra push, and we can feel the energy when we’re out there, representing you.”

Chiefs head coach Clayton McMillan emphasized the importance of accuracy and discipline ahead of the fixture against the Hurricanes.

“Our key focus is accuracy and discipline,” McMillan said.

“We improved significantly against the Reds, and that alone enabled us to play the type of game we know we have always been capable of playing.

“It is also encouraging that we have a fit and fresh squad who are chomping at the bit, and for the first time this year, we are able to name an unchanged matchday 23.”

He added: “The Hurricanes have set the pace in this year’s Super Rugby Pacific competition, have earned the right to get the home advantage through the finals, and will be formidable opposition again in front of a large and expectant home crowd.

“They are a well-balanced team, riding high on confidence. They will be a tough nut to crack as we have already experienced twice this year. Playing each other for a third time creates new opportunities. I imagine both teams will draw on previous experiences to understand where the gains can be made.”

It will be a special occasion on Friday in Auckland for Blues loose forward Akira Ioane, who has confirmed this season will be his last in blue before heading overseas.

“Aki is a veteran of this team, a man of action and someone who commands respect from both his teammates and his opposition,” said Blue head coach Vern Cotter.

“The boys know this could be the last time he runs out on Eden Park in a Blues jersey and we want to make sure we put in a performance worthy of the occasion.

“The crowd and atmosphere are everything in these knockout matches.”

Cotter stressed that sticking to the basics will ensure the team is in a good position to perform.

“We don’t need to do anything drastically different just because we’re playing a semifinal,” said Cotter.

“We know what’s served us well this season, strong ball carries, breakdown efficiency and astute decision-making – nothing changes on Friday.”

The Brumbies will look to become the first Australian team to win a finals game in New Zealand with a six-day turnaround.

They went down 7-46 in April but have not lost a game since as they ride a seven-game winning streak.

As they find themselves in their third-straight semifinal, Brumbies head coach Stephen Larkham believes they are primed to be at their best as they look for a breakthrough finals victory.

“It’s not looking back on last year, it’s a motivation to win every game,” Larkham said.

“We’ve been over to Auckland already this year and we didn’t have a very successful day so we’ve learnt some lessons from that.

“We’re also on a bit of a roll in terms of our ability to win games. I thought our game on the weekend was pretty spot on first half, one defensive lapse and a few discipline issues around the scrum and breakdown but outside of that, it was a pretty complete game.

“We’ve been building all year to get our best performances in the finals and we’re looking to take it a step further from last week where a few things hurt us.

“We want to make sure we’re a little more clinical in all aspects of our game.”

All the weekend’s teams and predictions follow below …

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Friday, June 14

Blues v Brumbies
(Eden Park, Auckland – Kick-off: 19.05; 07.05 GMT; 17.05 AEST)


@rugby365com: Blues by five points


Blues: 15 Stephen Perofeta, 14 Mark Tele’a, 13 Rieko Ioane, 12 AJ Lam, 11 Caleb Clarke, 10 Harry Plummer, 9 Finlay Christie, 8 Hoskins Sotutu, 7 Dalton Papali’i (captain), 6 Akira Ioane, 5 Josh Beehre, 4 Sam Darry, 3 Marcel Renata, 2 Ricky Riccitelli, 1 Ofa Tu’ungafasi
Replacements: 16 Kurt Eklund, 17 Joshua Fusitu’a, 18 Angus Ta’avao, 19 James Thompson, 20 Adrian Choat, 21 Taufa Funaki, 22 Corey Evans, 23 Cole Forbes

Brumbies: 15 Tom Wright, 14 Andy Muirhead, 13 Len Ikitau, 12 Tamati Tua, 11 Corey Toole, 10 Noah Lolesio, 9 Ryan Lonergan, 8 Charlie Cale, 7 Rory Scott, 6 Rob Valetini, 5 Tom Hooper, 4 Darcy Swain, 3 Allan Alaalatoa (captain), 2 Billy Pollard, 1 James Slipper
Replacements: 16 Liam Bowron, 17 Rhys van Nek, 18 Sosefo Kautai, 19 Nick Frost, 20 Jahrome Brown, 21 Luke Reimer, 22 Harrison Goddard, 23 Ollie Sapsford

Referee: James Doleman
Assistant referees: Jono Bredin and Fraser Hannon
TMO: Chris Hart

Saturday, June 15

Hurricanes v Chiefs
(Wellington Regional Stadium, Wellington – Kick-off: 16.35; 04.35 GMT)


@rugby365com: Hurricanes by three points


Hurricanes: 15 Ruben Love, 14 Josh Moorby, 13 Billy Proctor, 12 Jordie Barrett, 11 Salesi Rayasi, 10 Brett Cameron, 9 TJ Perenara, 8 Brayden Iose, 7 Peter Lakai, 6 Brad Shields (captain), 5 Isaia Walker-Leawere, 4 Justin Sangster, 3 Tyrel Lomax, 2 Asafo Aumua, 1 Pouri Rakete-Stones
Replacements: 16 James O’Reailly, 17 Tevita Mafileo, 18 Pasilio Tosi, 19 James Tucker, 20 Devan Flanders, 21 Du’Plessis Kirifi, 22 Richard Judd, 23 Bailyn Sullivan

Chiefs: 15 Shaun Stevenson, 14 Emoni Narawa, 13 Anton Lienert-Brown, 12 Rameka Poihipi, 11 Etene Nanai-Seturo, 10 Damian McKenzie, 9 Cortez Ratima, 8 Wallace Sititi, 7 Luke Jacobson (captain), 6 Samipeni Finau, 5 Tupou Vaa’i, 4 Jimmy Tupou, 3 George Dyer, 2 Samisoni Taukei’aho, 1 Aidan Ross
Replacements: 16 Bradley Slater, 17 Jared Proffit, 18 Reuben O’Neill, 19 Naitoa Ah Kuoi, 20 Simon Parker, 21 Xavier Roe, 22 Quinn Tupaea, 23 Daniel Rona

Referee: Angus Gardner
Assistant referees: Damon Murphy and Matt Kellahan
TMO: Brett Cronan

*Additional Sources: @ChiefsRugby, @BluesRugbyTeam,  @HurricanesRugby, @BrumbiesRugby


Watch the exclusive reveal-all episode of Walk the Talk with Ardie Savea as he chats to Jim Hamilton about the RWC 2023 experience, life in Japan, playing for the All Blacks and what the future holds. Watch now for free on RugbyPass TV

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