Vodacom Super Rugby Semi-Final Preview
July 27, 2017
An unchanged Emirates Lions side will aim to reach their second successive Vodacom Super Rugby final when they host defending champions, the Hurricanes, at 14h30 on Saturday at Emirates Arline Park in Johannesburg.

The first semi-final will be contested on Saturday morning between the Crusaders and fellow Kiwi side the Chiefs, who meet each other at 09h35 (SA time) in Christchurch.

Saturday’s Joburg clash will be the first meeting between the Highveld side and the Hurricanes since the 2006 final, when the New Zealand outfit triumphed 20-3 in Wellington. Should the Emirates Lions emerge victorious, they will host next week’s Final.

Johan Ackermann’s side will be looking to become only the second South African team in Vodacom Super Rugby history to appear in back-to-back finals after the Vodacom Bulls did so in 2009 and 2010.

However, any hope of achieving that feat will depend on a much better performance than last Saturday’s nervous and nail-biting quarter-final win over the Cell C Sharks. The Hurricanes have been in free-scoring mood so far this season and their attacking instincts will pose a big challenge for the home side’s defence.

Going into Saturday’s vital clash, the Emirates Lions have already scored more tries (84) then last year’s record haul of 81. By comparison, however, the Canes have already stacked up a season-best tally of 93 tries.

Hurricanes captain Dane Coles will start at hooker in what will be his 100th appearance for the Wellington side. His return is one of two changes to the Hurricanes starting side with the competition’s leading try scorer, Vince Aso, reclaiming his place at centre in a reshuffled backline.

It will be Coles’ first start since he suffered concussion against the Highlanders in round four and comes a week after his successful return via the bench against the Brumbies in Canberra. Coles, who made his Hurricanes debut against the Waratahs in Wellington in 2009, replaces Ricky Riccitelli in an otherwise unchanged forward pack.

The return of Aso from the groin injury that kept him out of the quarterfinal sees wing Julian Savea move to the bench at the expense of Cory Jane. Aso replaces Jordie Barrett at centre with the latter moving back to fullback. Nehe Milner-Skudder shits to the right wing with Wes Goosen switching sides to start in the No 11 jersey where he replaces Savea.

Teams and match information:

Crusaders vs Chiefs:

Crusaders: 15 David Havili, 14 Israel Dagg, 13 Jack Goodhue, 12 Ryan Crotty, 11 Seta Tamanivalu, 10 Richie Mo'unga, 9 Bryn Hall, 8 Kieran Read, 7 Matt Todd, 6 Jordan Taufua, 5 Sam Whitelock (captain), 4 Scott Barrett, 3 Owen Franks, 2 Codie Taylor, 1 Joe Moody. Replacements: 16 Ben Funnell, 17 Wyatt Crockett, 18 Michael Alaalatoa, 19 Luke Romano, 20 Pete Samu, 21 Mitchell Drummond, 22 Mitchell Hunt, 23 George Bridge.

Chiefs: 15 Damian McKenzie, 14 Tim Nanai-Williams, 13 Anton Lienert-Brown , 12 Charlie Ngatai, 11 James Lowe, 10 Aaron Cruden (co-captain), 9 Tawera Kerr-Barlow, 8 Michael Leitch, 7 Sam Cane (co-captain), 6 Liam Messam, 5 Brodie Retallick, 4 Mitchell Brown, 3 Nepo Laulala, 2 Nathan Harris, 1 Kane Hames. Replacements: 16 Liam Polwart, 17 Aidan Ross, 18 Atu Moli, 19 Dominic Bird, 20 Lachlan Boshier, 21 Finlay Christie, 22 Stephen Donald, 23 Shaun Stevenson.

Match information:
Date: Saturday, 29 July 2017
SA Time: 09h35
Venue: AMI Stadium, Christchurch
Referee: Glen Jackson
Assistant referees: Angus Gardner, Ben O’Keeffe
Television match official: Glenn Newmann

Emirates Lions v Hurricanes:

Emirates Lions: 15 Andries Coetzee, 14 Ruan Combrinck, 13 Lionel Mapoe, 12 Harold Vorster, 11 Courtnall Skosan, 10 Elton Jantjies, 9 Ross Cronje, 8 Ruan Ackermann, 7 Kwagga Smith, 6 Jaco Kriel (captain), 5 Franco Mostert, 4 Andries Ferreira, 3 Ruan Dreyer, 2 Malcolm Marx, 1 Jacques van Rooyen. Replacements: 16 Akker van der Merwe, 17 Corne Fourie, 18 Johannes Jonker, 19 Lourens Erasmus, 20 Cyle Brink, 21 Faf de Klerk, 22 Rohan Janse van Rensburg, 23 Sylvian Mahuza.

Hurricanes: 15 Jordie Barrett, 14 Nehe Milner-Skudder, 13 Vince Aso, 12 Ngani Laumape, 11 Wes Goosen, 10 Beauden Barrett, 9 TJ Perenara, 8 Brad Shields, 7 Ardie Savea, 6 Vaea Fifita, 5 Sam Lousi, 4 Mark Abbott, 3 Jeff To'omaga-Allen, 2 Dane Coles (captain), 1 Ben May. Replacements: 16 Ricky Riccitelli, 17 Chris Eves, 18 Loni Uhila, 19 Reed Prinsep, 20 Callum Gibbins, 21 Te Toiroa Tahuriorangi, 22 Otere Black, 23 Julian Savea.

Match information:
Date: Saturday, 29 July 2017
SA Time: 14h30
Venue: Emirates Airline Park, Johannesburg
Referee: Jaco Peyper
Assistant referees: Marius van der Westhuizen, Rasta Rasivhenge
Television match official: Marius Jonker

Castle Lager Outgoing Tour
Saturday, November 03 2018
17:00 - England vs South Africa
Twickenham, London
Saturday, November 10 2018
22:05 - France vs South Africa
Stade de France, Paris
Saturday, November 17 2018
19:20 - Scotland vs South Africa
Murrayfield, Edinburgh
Saturday, November 24 2018
19:20 - Wales vs South Africa
Principality Stadium, Cardiff

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