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Blues advance to Super Rugby Pacific Final after tough win over Brumbies

Brumbies v Blues: Five key match ups to watch in Friday’s semi-final

Written by Nathan Williamson, courtesy of rugby.com.au Source article
Brumbies v Blues: Five key match ups to watch in Friday'\''s semi-final

The ACT Brumbies will look to become the first Australian team to win a semi-final in New Zealand as they face the Blues in Auckland.

The Brumbies were the closest team to breaking the streak, going down by a point two years ago.

Catch every game of Super Rugby Pacific LIVE, ad-free and on demand on Stan Sport.

A lot has changed since, with Stephen Larkham’s side riding a seven game winning streak into the contest.

The last team to beat them? That was the Blues, handing them a convincing defeat in April.

With history on the line, Rugby.com.au looks at five key match-ups that will decide the contest.

Rory Scott v Dalton Papali’i

Scott’s breakdown presence was crucial in their upset win over the Hurricanes and his inclusion by the Brumbies indicates they will ask to employ a similar role.

The tough backrower along with Darcy Swain will be key towards shutting down the crafty Blues captain around the ruck and ensuring the quick ball they feast off.

Papali’i takes the armband with no Tuipulotu after his long-term knee injury.

He put the Brumbies under significant pressure in their last meeting and he’ll need to do the same if the Blues wish to control the contest

Tom Wright v Stephen Perofeta

Both fullbacks present different styles of play that will dictate how the game will go.

Wright is a creative maverick who can take a game on and produce something out of nothing thanks to his lightning speed and agility.

As for Perofeta, he has slotted more into a second five and picking his moments to piece a defence apart.

The Blues need to limit Wright’s involvement in space whilst allowing Perofeta to unleash the likes of Mark Tele’a and Caleb Clarke.

Hoskins Sotutu v Charlie Cale

In these teams’ last encounter, physicality was the difference and number eight Hoskins Sotutu was the main battering ram for the Blues.

Sotutu powered over for a double in the 39-point win that saw him lead the way for post-contact metres for the forwards.

He goes up against Charlie Cale, who has been the breakout star of the 2024 campaign.

Cale was quiet in the previous match in April but his quarter-final performance saw how dangerous he can be when he gets involved early and often thanks to his speed and athleticism comparative to his size.

James Slipper v Marcel Renata

The biggest concern for the Brumbies heading into this game is their scrum, with James Slipper a big inclusion.

Slipper’s presence was missed against the Highlanders last weekend, with replacement Harry Vella giving away four penalties in the first 22 minutes.

However, the Wallaby has had his own struggles, presenting the chance for Marcel Renata to attack the loosehead.

The Blues stalwart will target his connection with Billy Pollard in the opening scrums to paint that picture of dominance to referee James Doleman, which would set them up to control the contest.

Mark Tele’a v Corey Toole

Two game changes on an edge that will look to turn the game with a single carry.

Tele’a is one of the best in the world in open space, scoring nine tries in 2024.

He is a big game player with a freakish ability to produce a try when his side needs it the most.

Likewise, Toole is one of the fastest players in any sport and will be looking to shut down his opposite man whilst creating space for himself to unleash his acceleration.

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