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

Super Rugby Pacific Semi-Final Preview

Written by Nathan Williamson, courtesy of rugby.com.au Source article
Super Rugby Pacific Semi-Final Preview

The semi-finals of Super Rugby Pacific are here with two entertaining matches set to decide who faces off for the Final.

It begins in Auckland as the ACT Brumbies fly the Australian flag against the Blues at Eden Park.

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

The Blues convincing won their last encounter in April but the Brumbies have not lost since.

This is followed by the Hurricanes facing the Chiefs in Wellington, with the two sides playing out a thrilling 20-17 win to the hosts last month.

Rugby.com.au previews all the action from the semi-finals, presented by Bet365

Friday 14 June 5:05 PM AEST – Blues v ACT Brumbies at Eden Park, Auckland, ad-free, live and on demand on Stan Sport and the Nine Network Teams

BLUES (1-15): Ofa Tu’ungafasi, Ricky Riccitelli, Marcel Renata, Sam Darry, Josh Beehre, Akira Ioane, Dalton Papali’i (c), Hoskins Sotutu, Finlay Christie, Harry Plummer, Caleb Clarke, AJ Lam, Rieko Ioane, Mark Tele’a, Stephen Perofeta

RESERVES: Kurt Eklund, Joshua Fusitu’a, Angus Ta’avao, James Thompson, Adrian Choat, Taufa Funaki, Corey Evans, Cole Forbes

  • Sam Darry returns to the starting side in the second-row after overcoming a concussion
  • Dalton Papali’i takes the captaincy after Patrick Tuipulotu’s knee injury

BRUMBIES (1-15): James Slipper, Billy Pollard, Allan Alaalatoa (c), Darcy Swain, Tom Hooper, Rob Valetini, Rory Scott, Charlie Cale, Ryan Lonergan, Noah Lolesio, Corey Toole, Tamati Tua, Len Ikitau, Andy Muirhead, Tom Wright

RESERVES: Liam Bowron, Rhys van Nek, Sosefo Kautai, Nick Frost, Jahrome Brown, Luke Reimer, Harrison Goddard, Ollie Sapsford

  • James Slipper has been cleared to play following a calf strain
  • Rory Scott starts in the back-row, his fifth start of the season
  • Jahrome Brown reverts to the bench as part of a 6-2 split

Facts

  • The Blues have won all three of their finals meetings against the Brumbies in Super Rugby history
  • The ACT Brumbies are on a seven-game winning streak in Super Rugby Pacific, winning by eight points or fewer in five of those games. The last time they were on a similar winning streak was in 2004, where they won eight straight, including the Final
  • The Blues have won their last 14 consecutive Super Rugby Pacific games at Eden Park, restricting their opponents to fewer than 10 points on six occasions in that frame

Key Match Up

Noah Lolesio v Harry Plummer

The two flyhalves will play a critical role in deciding the outcome of the semi-final.

Lolesio delivered a masterclass in the quarter-final with his kicking game and needs a similar performance to upset the red-hot Blues.

As for Plummer, he has made the jersey his own since Stephen Perofeta’s injury and will be out to continue his impressive season with a win

Prediction

Brumbies by 4

Saturday 15 June 2:35 PM AEST – Hurricanes v Chiefs at SKY Stadium, Wellington, ad-free, live and on demand on Stan Sport Teams

HURRICANES (1-15): Pouri-Rakete-Stones, Asafo Aumua, Tyrel Lomax, Justin Sangster, Isaia Walker-Leawere, Brad Shields (c), Peter Lakai, Brayden Iose, TJ Perenara, Brett Cameron, Salesi Rayasi, Jordie Barrett, Billy Proctor, Josh Moorby, Ruben Love

RESERVES: James O’Reilly, Tevita Mafileo, Pasilio Tosi, James Tucker, Devan Flanders, Du’Plessis Kirifi, Richard Judd, Bailyn Sullivan

  • Pouri-Rakete-Stones replaces the injured Xavier Numia in the front-row
  • He is joined by the returning Tyrel Lomax, with Pasilio Tosi back on the bench
  • Brad Shields returns to the starting side and assumes the captaincy

CHIEFS (1-15): Aidan Ross, Samisoni Taukei’aho, George Dyer, Jimmy Tupou, Tupou Vaa’i, Samipeni Finau, Luke Jacobson (c), Wallace Sititi, Cortez Ratima, Damian McKenzie, Etene Nanai Seturo, Rameka Poihipi, Anton Lienert-Brown, Emoni Narawa, Shaun Stevenson

RESERVES: Bradley Slater, Jared Proffit, Reuben O’Neill, Naitoa Ah Kuoi, Simon Parker, Xavier Roe, Quinn Tupaea, Daniel Rona

  • The Chiefs are unchanged from the side that defeated the Queensland Reds last weekend

Facts

  • The Hurricanes have won each of their last two Super Rugby Pacific matches against the Chiefs after losing five consecutive games against them
  • The Hurricanes are on a nine-game winning streak at Sky Stadium in Super Rugby Pacific, scoring more than 40 points in three of their last four games at the venue;
  • The Chiefs have never scored more than 20 points in a semi final despite this being their ninth visit to this stage.

Key Match Up

Salesi Rayasi v Emoni Narawa

A pair of wingers in red-hot form.

Rayasi is coming off a hat-trick against the Highlanders a fortnight ago, where he showed off his explosiveness and dangerous footwork.

As for Narawa, he has been a deadly finisher in 2024 with ten tries in their last eight games, including in the two teams’ last encounter

Prediction

Hurricanes by 12

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