Wed, Jul 27, 3:11pm by Staff Writer
New Zealand’s dominance of rugby can be perfectly summed up by viewing the line-up for the Super Rugby 2016 Semi Finals. Two Kiwi sides will battle it out in Wellington on Friday night as the Hurricanes take on the Chiefs while yet another New Zealand franchise, the Highlanders will travel to South Africa to face the Lions. With three out of four of the semi-finalists hailing from New Zealand the odds are stacked heavily in their favour for the trophy to reside there at the end of the season.
Hurricanes v Chiefs, 5:35pm AEST, Saturday July 30
The incredible form of the Hurricanes in recent weeks saw them leapfrog their next opponents to take out the first seed on the ladder and a relatively easier path to this stage. While the Chiefs had to travel to South Africa to beat the Stormers, the Hurricanes welcomed the Sharks with a masterclass on running rugby in the rain.
Both of these sides completely out played and out muscled their South African opposition in the qualifying finals round and this match up promises to be a fantastic contest. William Hill hold the Hurricanes as favourites at $1.56 compared to the Chiefs priced at $2.45. The ‘Canes form will have influenced this to a large extent but also the potential effects of travel times on the Chiefs. It is no mean feat to travel half way across the globe and back as well as playing two matches in seven days. The toll taken on the Chiefs players bodies will be extreme but they will believe that they can repeat their regular season victory by one point over the home side.
Bet of the Match- Hurricanes to Win by 1-12 points at $2.60
Lions v Highlanders: 11:00pm AEST, Saturday July 30
The Highlanders inflicted the Lions first defeat of the season this year in Round 3 as the South African side started impressively. At that time many would still have viewed the Lions as a surprise package but they have surely done enough throughout the year to lose that tag. Last week they showed the quality that they possess as they dismantled a top quality Crusaders side 42-25.
They are held as favourites for this match on William Hill priced at $1.80 with this tight match only seeing 20 cents separating the sides. The Highlanders are priced at $2.00. Travel times and the logistical nightmare of the finals will have affected the Kiwi side, yet as defending Champions it is extremely difficult to write them off. A close match against the Brumbies last weekend saw them edge into the semi-finals but they may well struggle against an inform Lions with a home crowd behind them.
Bet of the Match– Lions to Win at $1.80
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