The Crusaders will take on the Waratahs in the Super Rugby final after both sides registered eye-catching semi-final victories on Saturday.
Seven-time champions Crusaders thrashed the Sharks in Christchurch 38-6 to exact revenge for a 30-25 defeat to the South Africans earlier in the tournament and will now travel to the Olympic Stadium in Sydney to face third-time finalists the Waratahs, who will have the advantage of playing at home.
The New South Wales outfit produced a determined defensive performance and seized their opportunities to see off fellow Australian franchise the Brumbies 26-8.
You can watch the Super Rugby final live on Sky Sports on Saturday – but first, find out what the Sky Sports rugby union experts made of the two semi-final ties…
Crusaders 38-6 Sharks - Report
Sean Fitzpatrick: Crusaders have got an all-round game and they definitely showed that here. They had to compete in the tight five and nullify that strength of the Sharks and they did the job, especially in the second half. They put real pressure on the Sharks defence – and the Sharks couldn’t answer the questions.
No disrespect but I think the Sharks have been a little bit overrated in this competition. They had a good start but they had a good draw and I thought their performance today was very, very poor. Their game plan has been suspect right throughout the whole competition. Their kicking game was way off the pace but they don’t have a plan B. They’ll go away and reflect on a season of lost opportunities.
But the Crusaders will want to win this competition now. Todd Blackadder has managed the season well and they’ve learnt from their experiences.
Thinus Delport: I think the Sharks made too many silly errors. They couldn’t deal with the high balls from the Crusaders and made too many mistakes. Their kicking game was atrocious today, as well. They didn’t give their big forwards a platform to play from. The final try from the Crusaders was a great finish and a real confidence booster for them, but a slap in the face for the Sharks forwards.
The Sharks have to blame themselves because they made too many errors. At this stage of the competition, when you’re playing against quality opposition, you cannot make those errors.
But Kieran Read was exceptional for the Crusaders. He brings such a different dimension to the back play of the Crusaders’ scrum. His ability to run with the ball and offload the ball means he’s an extra back playing in that set up. We wouldn’t expect anything else from Dan Carter and Richie McCaw, who just makes a nuisance of himself; every time there’s a breakdown, he’s in there disrupting, slowing the ball down and frustrating the opposition, which he does perfectly well.
Waratahs 26-8 Brumbies - Report
Michael Lynagh: The Waratahs’ defence was outstanding today. They do a lot of work for each other; Nick Phipps’ cover defending was incredible and they just make a tackle, get up and make another one. They’re enthusiastic around each other and it was an extraordinary performance by the Waratahs in defence.
Then, when they got down into the Brumbies’ half they took advantage of it. They were only down there twice in the first 20 minutes of the second half and they scored points.
I think the New South Wales supporters will get to the Olympic Stadium for the final next week and get behind them because this Waratahs team is worth watching. Good teams find different ways of winning games and this Waratahs team has that – but as do the Crusaders, who are coming into really strong form. Going away is a big issue but the Crusaders are an experienced team.
Fitzpatrick: The Waratahs are really working for each other, they’re very close. When you think about the teams that win these competitions, it’s the ones that take their opportunities and the Waratahs scored tries in their two opportunities in the second half. It was very impressive. And I think this win has set it up brilliantly because we’ve got the two best teams in the final next week.
The Waratahs were outstanding and at home I think this could be their time.