15 Super Rugby teams have been narrowed down to just 8 teams who will battle it out to lift the Super Rugby trophy on 4 August.
Road to the Final:
Hurricanes v Chiefs
The Hurricanes and Chiefs will face off for the second time in as many weeks.
The Chiefs claimed 28-24 victory over the Canes but will be well aware that the Wellington-based side are a different beast at home and in playoffs.
The hosts are sweating on the availability of injured captain Brad Shields for the clash, while the Chiefs welcome back All Blacks Damian McKenzie and Sam Cane.
Shields suffered an injury to his ribs in last weekend and has been bracketed in the starting lineup with Reed Prinsep. Centre Wes Goosen has also been bracketed on the bench with Jonah Lowe.
Goosen’s situation has triggered a backline reshuffle with fullback Jordie Barret moving into the No 13 jersey, winger Nehe Milner-Skudder reverting to No 15 and Julian Savea slotting back into the starting lineup.
Gareth Evans has been promoted to start ahead of openside flanker Sam Henwood while All Blacks forward Vaea Fifita is fit again and has been named on the bench.
Prop Jeff Toomaga-Allen has been named to play his 100th Super Rugby match.
HURRICANES (15-1): Nehe Milner-Skudder, Julian Savea, Jordie Barrett, Ngani Laumape, Ben Lam, Beauden Barrett, TJ Perenara, Blade Thomson, Gareth Evans, Brad Shields (c)/Reed Prinsep, Sam Lousi, Michael Fatialofa, Jeff Toomaga-Allen, Ricky Riccitelli
Reserves: James O’Reilly, Chris Eves, Ben May, Vaea Fifita, Prinsep/Sam Henwood, Jamie Booth, Ihaia West, Wes Goosen/Jonah Lowe
CHIEFS (15-1): Solomon Alaimalo, Sean Wainui, Anton Lienert-Brown, Charlie Ngatai (co-c), Shaun Stevenson, Damian McKenzie, Brad Weber, Liam Messam, Sam Cane (co-c), Lachlan Boshier, Michael Allardice, Brodie Retallick, Angus Ta’avao, Nathan Harris, Karl Tu’inukuafe
Reserves: Liam Polwart, Sam Prattley, Jeff Thwaites, Jesse Parete, Mitch Karpik, Te Toiroa Tahuriorangi, Marty McKenzie, Alex Nankivell
- The Chiefs have won four of their last six games against the Hurricanes
- The Canes have won 21 of their last 22 games played on home turf, including their last nine on the bounce
- The Hurricanes have won nine of their last 10 games when hosting New Zealand sides
- Overall Results: 16 Hurricanes wins, 15 Chiefs wins and 1 draw
Referee: Glen Jackson
Venue: Westpac Stadium
Crusaders v Sharks
The Crusaders will host the Sharks in Christchurch which will be the first time the sides have met since 2016 with the Crusaders claiming a 14-19 victory in Durban on the day.
The defending champions have won 17 of the previous 23 encounters between the two sides but the Sharks have caused a few upsets notably in 2014 when the Sharks beat the Crusaders 25-30 in Christchurch despite playing the majority of the match with 14 men.
Sharks head coach Robert du Preez has named an unchanged 23 for the clash with veteran prop Tendai Mtawarira making his 150th Super appearance in the black jersey.
He holds the record for being the most capped Super Rugby player for a single province and is just behind Adriaan Strauss, who is the most capped South African Super Rugby player with 156.
Crusaders coach Scott Robertson has made 5 changes to his starting lineup with Kieran Read and centre Ryan Crotty both declared fit.
Robertson has also recalled All Blacks Owen Franks, Codie Taylor, Scott Barrett and David Havili, with the latter replacing Israel Dagg at fullback.
Bryn Hall also switches jerseys with Mitchell Drummond.
CRUSADERS (15-1): David Havili, Seta Tamanivalu, Jack Goodhue, Ryan Crotty, George Bridge, Richie Mo’unga, Bryn Hall, Kieran Read, Matt Todd, Jordan Taufua, Sam Whitelock (c), Scott Barrett, Owen Franks, Codie Taylor, Tim Perry
Reserves: Andrew Makalio, Wyatt Crockett, Michael Alaalatoa, Luke Romano, Pete Samu, Mitchell Drummond, Mitchell Hunt, Manasa Mataele
SHARKS (15-1): Curwin Bosch, Kobus van Wyk, Lukhanyo Am, Andre Esterhuizen, Lwazi Mvovo, Robert du Preez, Louis Schreuder, Daniel du Preez, Jacques Vermeulen, Philip van der Walt, Ruan Botha (c), Tyler Paul, Thomas du Toit, Akker van der Merwe, Tendai Mtawarira
Replacements: Chiliboy Ralepelle, Juan Schoeman, John-Hubert Meyer, Hyron Andrews, Wian Vosloo, Cameron Wright, Marius Louw, Makazole Mapimpi
- The Crusaders have won each of their previous meetings in the playoffs.
- The Crusaders have won their last 16 games on the bounce when hosting teams from outside New Zealand
- No South African team has ever won a finals game in New Zealand, with this being the 13th such fixture in Super Rugby history
- While in charge of the Crusaders, Scott Robertson is yet to lose at home to a side from outside New Zealand.
Referee: Mike Fraser
Venue: AMI Stadium
Waratahs v Highlanders
The Waratahs will be looking to secure the double over the Highlanders this weekend after they ended Australia's drought against New Zealand sides earlier this season.
Historically the Waratahs have the edge in this fixture winning 8 of their 12 games against the Highlanders in Sydney.
Waratahs coach Daryl Gibson has made just one change to his starting side with Alex Newsome being rewarded for his fine form by replacing Cam Clark on the right wing.
Highlanders coach Aaron Mauger has been able to name a strong side with rested stars Ben Smith, Aaron Smith, Luke Whitelock, Elliot Dixon, Rob Thompson and Ash Dixon all returning.
Siate Tokolahi, Richard Buckman and Alex Ainley are all unavailable for the clash.
WARATAHS (15-1): Israel Folau, Alex Newsome, Curtis Rona, Kurtley Beale, Taqele Naiyaravoro, Bernard Foley (c), Nick Phipps, Michael Wells, Will Miller, Ned Hanigan, Rob Simmons, Jed Holloway, Sekope Kepu, Damien Fitzpatrick, Tom Robertson
Reserves: Tolu Latu, Harry Johnson-Holmes, Paddy Ryan, Tom Staniforth, Brad Wilkin, Jake Gordon, Bryce Hegarty, Cam Clark
HIGHLANDERS (15-1): Ben Smith (c), Waisake Naholo, Rob Thompson, Teihorangi Walden, Tevita Li, Lima Sopoaga, Aaron Smith, Luke Whitelock, James Lentjes, Liam Squire, Tom Franklin, Jackson Hemopo, Tyrel Lomax, Liam Coltman, Daniel Lienert-Brown
Reserves: Ash Dixon, Aki Seiuli, Kalolo Tuiloma, Shannon Frizell, Elliot Dixon, Kayne Hammington, Josh Ioane, Matt Faddes
- The Waratahs beat the Highlanders 41-12 earlier in the season, their biggest ever win against the Highlanders, snapping a four-game losing streak against the Dunedin outfit
- The Tahs have won four of their last 5 finals games at home, however, their only defeat in that span came in 2015 against the Highlanders.
- Tevita Li has crossed for a try in each of his last two games against Australian opposition, and has scored three tries in his last four games overall
- Highlanders Luke Whitelock, Tom Franklin and Dillon Hunt have all made at least 10 tackles more than any other player in the competition and all average over 11 tackles a game.
Referee: Angus Gardner
Venue: Allianz Stadium
Lions v Jaguares
The Lions and Jaguares face off in a clash which has historically been won by the home side. The Lions will be vying for their third straight Super Rugby final and will be hope it will be third time lucky.
The Jaguares, on the other hand, have enoyed their best season in the competition and went seven games unbeaten before falling to the Bulls a weeks ago. The Argentines will be making their first appearance in the Super Rugby playoffs.
The Lions have made two changes to their starting lineup with Aphiwe Dyantyi replacing Courtnall Skosan in the starting XV while Ross Cronje coming in for the injure Nic Groom who has played his final game of the season.
On the bench Dylan Smith returns after recovering from a calf strain, while Dillon Smit takes the vacant 21 jersey.
Mario Ledesma has made a number of changes to his side to face the Lions with only Pablo Matera and Marco Kremer the only forwards remaining in the starting XV.
Ledesma has made 5 changes to the starting backline with Matias Moroni and Bautista Delguy with former moving from fullback onto the left wing.
Matera successfully appealed his two week ban to start the match while Agustin Creevy, Nicholas Sanchez and Emiliano Boffelli are among the other players returning to the side.
LIONS (15-1): Andries Coetzee, Ruan Combrinck, Lionel Mapoe, Harold Vorster, Aphiwe Dyantyi, Elton Jantjies, Ross Cronjé, Warren Whiteley (c), Cyle Brink, Kwagga Smith, Franco Mostert, Marvin Orie, Ruan Dreyer, Malcolm Marx, Jacques van Rooyen.
Reserves: Corne Fourie, Dylan Smith, Johannes Jonker, Lourens Erasmus, Marnus Schoeman, Dillon Smit, Courtnall Skosan, Howard Mnisi.
JAGUARES (15-1): Emiliano Boffelli, Bautista Delguy, Matias Orlando, Jeronimo de la Fuente, Matias Moroni, Nicolas Sanchez, Gonzalo Bertranou, Javier Ortega Desio, Tomas Lazana, Pablo Matera, Marcos Kremer, Guido Petti, Nahuel Tetaz, Agustin Creevy, Santiago Botta
Reserves: Julian Montoya, Juan Pablo Zeiss, Santiago Medrano, Matias Alemmano, Tomas Lavanini, Juan Manuel Leguizamon, Martin Landajo, Sebastian Cancelliere
- Each of the last six games between the Lions and Jaguares has been won by the home team on the day, with each side winning three games apiece
- The Lions have won four of their previous five finals games on home turf, scoring 40+ points on three occasions in that time
- The Jaguares have lost their last eight games in succession in South Africa.
- The Lions (27) and Jaguares (26) have beaten more defenders per game than any other team this campaign.
Referee: Jaco Peyper (SA)
Venue: Ellis Park
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