Super Rugby Semi-Final: Crusaders v Chiefs Preview

Crusaders v Chiefs Semi-Final Preview - Three Rugby Players One Being Tackled With Ball in Hand

An in-depth betting preview on the 2017 Super Rugby semi-final clash between the Crusaders and the Chiefs at AMI Stadium. 

And then there were four. The Crusaders host the Chiefs in an almighty semi-final showdown in Christchurch this Saturday, that is set to determine who plays either the Lions or Hurricanes in the Grand Final next week. A 'Saders win and a Lions loss would mean a first final in Christchurch since 2008, while a victory for both sides would mean a straight shootout in Johannesburg. A Chiefs win would see them having to travel to either Johannesburg or Wellington for the title decider - something that would certainly not be out of this side's reach in the least...

Crusaders v Chiefs | Saturday 29 July | AMI Stadium | 09:35

To Win (80 Mins)
Crusaders 3/10 | Draw 22/1 | Chiefs 49/20
Handicap
Crusaders (-7.5) 9/10 | Highlanders (+7.5) 9/10

Crusaders

The Crusaders came agonisingly short of achieving "invincible" status in Super Rugby 2017; eighty-minutes short in fact. Alas, a loss to the British & Irish Lions during the June break seemed to knock the stuffing out of the side, and their 22-31 loss to the Hurricanes two weeks ago put pay to the promise of finishing the round-robin stage (and potentially the entire competition) undefeated.

Nevertheless, Scott Robertson's band pulled themselves together to record a comfortable 17-0 home win over the Highlanders in the quarterfinals last week, in a match that was played in atrocious conditions. The Crusaders' forwards absolutely decimated those of the Highlanders, as their superior territory-based game allowed them to grind out the desired result.

As it is unlikely to rain come Saturday's kickoff, the Crusaders will be able to play their more fluid, complete game against the Chiefs. Another strong physical display will enable the likes of Richie Mo'unga to take charge of the match and put his side in good attacking positions. They shouldn't expect to keep this week's opponents scoreless as they did against the Highlanders; the quality attacking prowess of Dave Rennie's men will see to that. They can, however, subdue the threat with another bullish display up front.

Chiefs

Dave Rennie goes into what could prove to be his last game in charge knowing just how hard the Crusaders are to beat - let alone in Christchurch. Indeed, their 24-31 loss in Suva in May proved just how tough they are to beat and that, despite scoring more tries (four) than their opponents (three) in that encounter, they still managed to run out losers.

The Waikato men will need a big improvement from last week's performance against the Stormers, where they managed to make 17-handling errors in the first-half alone - the Crusaders' scrum will make them pay for any similar mistakes this Saturday. The Chiefs will look to take as many quick line-outs as possible in order to avoid coming up against a rock solid 'Saders lineout - so expect the likes of Damian McKenzie to speed things up from the back.

Rennie will look to the likes of Aaron Cruden to guide them over the line with his astute tactical genius, while the likes of Brodie Retallick and Nepo Laulala will look to match the efforts of the Crusaders' powerhouses in the trenches. Should they recover from their extensive travel of late, they will ensure that the contest is a tight one.

Verdict: Chiefs (+7.5) 9/10
I'm expecting a classic tussle between these two, but I feel that the home side will ultimately come out trumps in the end. Their scrum and lineout is far superior to that of the Chiefs, who could struggle in this department. They will run their hosts close through their incredible attacking flair, but they should bow out this week. That said, the smart move is to back the Chiefs on the plus when the handicaps are released.

Written by Shaun Goosen for @Hollywoodbets.net

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