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DHL Super Rugby Pacific’s Final Four Confirmed

DHL Super Rugby Pacific’s Final Four Confirmed

All BlacksJune 10, 2024

Quarterfinals in DHL Super Rugby Pacific went with form as the top four qualifiers wrapped up their semifinal places with comfortable wins over the weekend.

The semifinals will be:

Blues v Brumbies, Friday, 14 June, 7.05pm, Eden Park, Auckland

Hurricanes v Chiefs, Saturday, 15 June, 4.35pm, Sky Stadium, Wellington

Statistics watch:

Most tries: Sevu Reece (Crusaders) 12, Hoskins Sotutu (Blues) 11, Tom Wright (Brumbies), Emoni Narawa (Chiefs) 10.

Most carries: Rob Valetini (Brumbies) 158, Mark Tele'a (Blues) 154, Iosefo Masi (Drua) 149.

Most clean breaks: Caleb Clarke (Blues) 19, Joshua Moorby (Hurricanes) 18, Etene Nanai-Seturio 17.

Most defenders beaten: Masi 80, Selestino Ravutaumada (Drua) 69, Tele'a 57.

Most lineouts won: Liam Wright (Reds) 69, Nick Frost (Brumbies) 60, Ryan Smith (Reds), Josh Canham (Rebels) 57.

Most metres gained: Wright 1163, Jacob Ratumataivuki-Kneepkens (Highlanders) 991, Ravutaumada 963.

Most offloads: Reece 22, Mark Nawaqanitawase (Waratahs) 19, Sotutu 18.

Most points: Damian McKenzie (Chiefs) 157, Noah Lolesio (Brumbies) 140, Ben Donaldson (Force) 111.

Most tackles: Carlo Tizzano (Force) 240, Billy Harmon (Highlanders), Ryan Smith 208.

Chiefs 43 Reds 21

Starting at a blistering pace, the Chiefs swamped the Reds so overwhelmingly at FMG Stadium that they were sitting on a 31-0 points cushion by halftime. That came from two tries to hooker Samisoni Taukei'aho, one scored in his usual manner from a ruck five metres out, but the other was from a storming run onto a hail Mary inside pass from wing Emoni Narawa to sprint 15metres to score. Earlier, Narawa scored in when No8 Wallace Sititi, running down the right sideline, in-passed for Narawa to break the defence and score. Then, the game's master puppeteer, first five-eighths Damian McKenzie, pulled the attacking strings, combined with fullback Shaun Stevenson, when their respective kicks set up a chance that wing Etene Nanai-Seturo needed no second invitation to accept.

The Reds mounted a second-half response, but hauling back such a lead never seemed achievable. Halfback Tate McDermott was nippy enough to take advantage of two opportunities, while substitute Lawson Creighton completed a handy move. But with McKenzie delaying a pass, he created a space for centre Anton Lienert-Brown to slip through to score, to be followed soon after by replacement hooker Bradley Slater. By the time Reds substitute Lawson Creighton completed a good move to score, time had run out, and the Chiefs had unloaded their bench and kept their power dry, ready for the semifinals.

Chiefs 43 (Samisoni Taukei'aho 2, Emoni Narawa, Etene Nanai-Seturo, Anton Lienert-Brown, Bradley Slater tries; Damian McKenzie 5 con, pen) Reds 21 (Tate McDermott 2, Lawson Creighton tries; Tom Lynagh con; Creighton 2 con). HT: 31-0

Quarterfinal 2

Hurricanes 47 Melbourne Rebels 20

Playing to try and put the Hurricanes off their game was always a risk for the Rebels. It worked for around 38 minutes, but it was only a short-term fix based on punishing the Hurricanes with penalty goals. A team that finished eight places ahead of the Melbourneites was able to succeed because of its store of confidence, and that was evidenced from the moment second five-eighths Jordie Barrett burst through the defence to allow wing Joshua Moorby to show his strength to score on the halftime hooter. That followed an earlier try to prop Pasilio Tosi, while the reward for the Rebels' approach was two Carter Gordon penalty goals.

The home team unleashed their class in the second half. Another Barrett break after three minutes found No8 Brayden Iose in support, and he took the pass to score. An inside pass from flanker Peter Lakai to hooker Asafo Aumua who scored in the 53rd minute, gave the Hurricanes the cushion they needed, and they responded with halfback TJ Perenara's short pass to flanker Devan Flanders seeing him over in the 56th minute. When the Rebels moved the ball, they saw wing Lachie Anderson cross for tries in the 65th and 67th minutes. The Hurricanes recovered their equilibrium when flanker Du'Plessis Kirifi stretched to put the ball on the chalk in the 71st minute, and three minutes from the end, replacement wing Kini Naholo completed the scoring.

Hurricanes 47 (Pasilio Tosi, Joshua Moorby, Brayden Iose, Asafo Aumua, Devan Flanders, Du'Plessis Kirifi, Kini Naholo tries; Brett Cameron 6 con) Melbourne Rebels 20 (Lachie Anderson 2 tries; Carter Gordon 2 con, 2 pen). HT: 14-6

Quarterfinal 3

Blues 36 Fijian Drua 5

Blues' dominance offered the Drua nothing during the first half. Securing 63 per cent of possession, the Blues' consistent pressure crowded the Drua any time they looked like building play. They hit the Drua lineout hard, winning 16 throws to five, even after losing skipper and lock Patrick Tuipulotu to a knee injury. His replacement, James Thompson, who responded superbly, picked off his first two lineouts. Flanker Dalton Papali'i emerged from a lineout maul drive to score the first try after nine minutes. In the 17th minute, a kick to Caleb Clarke's corner saw him knock the ball back. Centre Rieko Ioane picked it up, and while held short of the line, he got the ball down to halfback Finlay Christie, who scored. Papali'i ran hard off a lineout, and from the resulting ruck, first five-eighths, Harry Plummer flung a wide pass to Clark for him to score in the 34th minute.

Not surprisingly, the Drua came out after the break and threw everything at the Blues, eventually sharing game possession at 50-50. Wing Selestino Ravutaumada broke from the Blues' 10m line and gave the defence no chance while scoring in the 42nd minute. With their enthusiasm rising, the Drua continued their assault for most of the third quarter, but the solid Blues' defence confined them between the respective 10m lines, and it was the Blues who showed their hand when a penalty kick to the corner relieved the pressure as replacement hooker Kurt Eklund went over from the lineout maul. Three minutes from the end, Eklund did a wraparound move from another lineout and then passed inside to blindside wing Clarke with a full head of steam to score his second.

Blues 36 (Dalton Papali'i, Finlay Christie, Caleb Clarke 2, Kurt Eklund tries; Harry Plummer 3 con, pen; Stephen Perofeta con) Fijian Drua 5 (Selestino Ravutaumada try). HT: 22-0

Quarterfinal 4

Brumbies 32 Highlanders 16

Starting with a backline incursion from fullback Tom Wright, the Brumbies had No8 Charlie Cale inject power in a strong run down the fight flanks before back-flicking an outside pass to wing Andy Muirhead to open the scoring in Canberra. Highlanders' first five-eighths Cameron Millar's goal-kicking boot was on song, and his three penalty goals had them in front 9-7 after 30 minutes. Home five-eighths Noah Lolesio had no sooner landed a penalty goal to reclaim the lead than Highlanders fullback Jacob Ratumataivuki-Kneepkens joined the line and gave wing Jona Nareki enough room to sprint down the sideline and had enough power to cross the goal line to score in two tackles. However, a vital blow was struck on halftime when Brumbies hooker Billy Pollard bunted his way over the line from a ruck to score.

Pollard was in again under similar circumstances three minutes into the second half. Then, completing the rush of try-scoring, a Lolesio crosskick was just short of Muirhead, but he speculated the ball ahead, then kicked it again to get the bounce and seal a trip to the semifinals.

Brumbies 32 (Andy Muirhead 2, Billy Pollard 2 tries; Noah Lolesio 3 con, 2 pen) Highlanders 16 (Jona Nareki try; Cameron Millar con, 3 pen). HT: 17-16

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