South Africa’s Emirates Lions and New Zealand’s Crusaders will meet for the second successive year in the Vodacom Super Rugby Final, this time in Christchurch, after both teams won their home semi-final matches this weekend.
The Lions scored six tries in their 44-26 triumph over the Waratahs after the sides were level 19-19 at halftime, while the Crusaders outplayed the Hurricanes by 30-12 in Christchurch for their 14th win in a row.
It will be the third consecutive final appearance for the Johannesburg-based franchise and a repeat of last year’s showpiece which the Crusaders won 25-17 at Emirates Airlines Park.
A powerful and dominant display by the Emirates Lions’ pack of forwards once laid the foundation for a convincing home victory over their Sydney rivals, with flanker Kwagga Smith winning the Man of the Match award for his outstanding display. The lively loose forward and the industrious hooker, Malcom Marx, both scored two tries each.
Warren Whiteley’s team scored six tries in total, with Springbok wings Aphiwe Dyantyi and replacement Courtnall Skosan also touching down. Flyhalf Elton Jantjies was on target with four conversions and two penalties.
The Waratahs’ persistence led to four tries scored by Ned Hanigan, Tom Robertson, Israel Folau and Jake Gordon, while Bernard Foley slotted three conversions and one penalty.
The Crusaders, for whom former Munster and Ireland player Ronan O’Gara is assistant coach, went into the all-Kiwi clash as the firm favourites and the defending champions didn’t disappoint against the Hurricanes. Richie Mo’unga, George Bridge, David Havili and Braydon Ennor each scored a try for the winning side, while Julian Savea and Ben Lam crossed for the Hurricanes.
Vodacom Super Rugby semi-final results:
Emirates Lions 44 Waratahs 26
Emirates Lions – Tries: Kwagga Smith (2), Malcolm Marx (2), Aphiwe Dyantyi, Courtnall Skosan; Conversions: Elton Jantjies (4); Penalties: Jantjies (2).
Waratahs – Tries: Ned Hanigan, Tom Robertson, Israel Folau, Jake Gordon; Conversions: Bernard Foley (3); Penalty: Foley.
Crusaders 30 Hurricanes 12
Crusaders – Tries: Richie Mo’unga, George Bridge, David Havili, Braydon Ennor; Conversions: Mo’unga (2); Penalties: Mo’unga (2).
Hurricanes – Tries: Julian Savea, Ben Lam; Conversion: Beauden Barrett.
The 2018 Vodacom Super Rugby Final will take place next Saturday, 4th August 2018, at AMI Stadium, Christchurch.