The Super Rugby semi-finals saw the Crusaders beat the Chiefs 27-13 and the Lions avenge last year’s final defeat to the Hurricanes 44-29.
All this leads to an exceptionally exciting final this weekend. There was a number of players who impressed last weekend as the southern hemisphere club season is set to close on a high note.
Here is a XV based on form in the two semi-finals.
1. Jacques van Rooyen (Lions)
The loose-head prop had a busy game scoring the Lions first try before half-time.
He scrummed well and was mobile around the field.
2. Malcolm Marx (Lions)
Marx continued his good form from the June international series and is quickly becoming one of the best hookers in the world. In the semi-final he was instrumental scoring a try and making a number of large carries.
3. Ruan Dreyer (Lions)
Completes a Lions front row for this team. Dreyer complemented the work done by van Rooyen and Marx with a solid game.
4. Brodie Retalick (Chiefs)
This man continues to produce world class performances regularly. Despite being in a losing team, Retalick was one of the best players on the field on Saturday.
We saw a display of great mobility and physicality from the All Black. He was deserving of his try near full-time.
5. Franco Mostert (Lions)
The leading lineout thief in Super Rugby with 16 takes on the opposition throw. He made two crucial steals as the Hurricanes were looking to build on their early lead. Mostert was also involved heavily in general play with some good defensive work.
6. Jaco Kriel (Lions)
Taking over the captaincy from Warren Whiteley, Kriel lead by example. Another industrious game by a consistent performer.
7. Kwagga Smith (Lions)
The former BlitzBokke star has become an outstanding fifteen-a-side player. He has great speed that suits the Lions open style of rugby.
He capped off a strong game with a try.
8. Brad Shields (Hurricanes)
Worked tirelessly for the Hurricanes. This included winning turnovers at crucial times. Shields has an immense workrate and his consistent form over this season cannot be ignored by the All Blacks selectors for too much longer.
9. Bryn Hall (Crusaders)
Hall narrowly gets the nod ahead of Lions scrum-half Ross Cronje. Hall backed up his quarter-final effort with another strong showing against the Chiefs. This included being in support to finish off a great try by the Crusaders.
10. Aaron Cruden (Chiefs)
In his last game for the Chiefs, Cruden showed his class with a number of breaks and putting his back line into space. Unfortunately, the Chiefs were nullified by a dogged Crusaders defensive effort.
11. Seta Tamanivalu (Crusaders)
His recent re-signing to the Crusaders has coincided with good form in the playoff series.
Scoring two tries is a promising sign and he will love the dry field for this week’s final.
12. Harold Vorster (Lions)
His semi-final performance will push his stake for a Springbok jersey in the near future. When the Lions started piling on the points, Vorster was a key part of this with his strong running in midfield. He chimed in with a nice try.
13. Ryan Crotty (Crusaders)
Even though he wore the number 12 jersey at the weekend, Crotty had to find away into this team. The “glue” of the Crusaders backline showed why he is in an important man to any team he is in.
Strong at making tackles and his ability to be in the right place at the right time are key factors in his game. His contribution in Hall’s try showed why he is an important part of the Crusaders.
14. Israel Dagg (Crusaders)
Dagg played an important role in the Crusaders win over the Chiefs. A good break from the All Black set up the first try of the match.
He was also in the right place at the right to score a fortunate try. Richie Mounga punched the ball out of James Lowes hand while attempting a clearing kick gifting Dagg the five-pointer.
15. Daminan McKenzie (Chiefs)
The best attacking Super Rugby player all season. McKenzie as always was electric with ball in hand in the semi-final.
Like Cruden he was only stopped by some desperate Crusaders defenders. His form has been so good he tops the number of defenders beaten (80) and metres gained (1669) in Super Rugby this season.
With the completition of the semi-finals, we look forward to a thrilling final between the Lions and Crusaders this weekend. Those players named in this form XV who are playing in the final will want to finish the season off with a Super Rugby title.
Carlin Crossan, Pundit Arena
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