Ardie Savea of the Hurricanes (left) burst through the defensive line in the quarter-final win over the Brumbies.
Ardie Savea of the Hurricanes (left) burst through the defensive line in the quarter-final win over the Brumbies. MICK TSIKAS

Visitors face major hurdle in Super Rugby semis

RUGBY UNION: The top four teams have survived the first round of the finals but the Hurricanes and Chiefs will need to buck Super Rugby history if they are to advance to the final.

The New Zealand outfits must win their semi-finals on the road after the four leading teams on the overall standings kept their premiership hopes alive at the weekend.

The Chiefs and Hurricanes will virtually cross paths over the Indian Ocean as they prepare to challenge the competition's top qualifiers this weekend, well aware that history rarely favours travelling play-off teams.

Brumbies players show their disappointment during their quarter-final loss to the Hurricanes.
Brumbies players show their disappointment during their quarter-final loss to the Hurricanes. MICK TSIKAS

The Chiefs must return to New Zealand to face the Crusaders in Christchurch while the Hurricanes will head to Johannesburg to take on the Lions after downing the Brumbies 35-16 in Canberra on Friday.

The Chiefs aren't daunted by Christchurch, where they have won on their last three visits, but coach Dave Rennie said their good record counted for little against opponents he rates the form side of 2017.

Rennie said the Crusaders have been impressive all season and again looked good in their 17-0 demolition of the Highlanders, just hours before his team beat the Stormers 17-11 in Cape Town.

James Lowe, right, fends off Cheslin Kolbe during their Super Rugby quater-final win against the Stormers.
James Lowe, right, fends off Cheslin Kolbe during their Super Rugby quater-final win against the Stormers. NIC BOTHMA

"I thought their pack was incredibly dominant and that's going to be a challenge for us,” he said.

"But we've got a pretty good pack. We'll make sure we've got clarity and we'll go down there and give it a real crack.

"We know it's a big challenge but we're embracing that.”

Defending champion Hurricanes will be looking to maintain their charge against the No.1 ranked Lions who needed a long-range penalty in the final minute from Ruan Combrinck to see off the unfancied Sharks 23-21.

Lions' Ruan Combrinck kicks the winning penalty in the Super Rugby quarter-final match against the Sharks.
Lions' Ruan Combrinck kicks the winning penalty in the Super Rugby quarter-final match against the Sharks. KIM LUDBROOK

The Hurricanes will be hoping to close the Lions down, as they did in last year's final in Wellington, while the South African side will be looking to bounce back.

While the Lions are yet to face a Kiwi team this year, 12 months ago they dispatched both the Crusaders and Highlanders in fast-paced home play-off matches, running up 42 points on both occasions.

SEMI-FINALS (All times AEST):-

Saturday: Crusaders v Chiefs, in Christchurch, 5.35pm

Saturday: Lions v Hurricanes, in Johannesburg, 10.30pm.



INCREDIBLE FOOTAGE: Storms tear CQ towns to shreds

INCREDIBLE FOOTAGE: Storms tear CQ towns to shreds

INCREDIBLE FOOTAGE: Thousands without power after storms wreak havoc

DIANNE RECOVERY: Specialist teams ready for investigation

DIANNE RECOVERY: Specialist teams ready for investigation

Dianne towed into Bundy port for investigations

Local Partners