Predictions: Super Rugby Semis

Date published: August 3 2013

It is time for us to put our heads on the block and give you Planet Rugby's calls for this weekend's Super Rugby semi-final action.

It is time for us to put our heads on the block and give you Planet Rugby's calls for this weekend's Super Rugby semi-finals.

With just the two matches to focus on in Hamilton and Pretoria, let's get started.

Chiefs v Crusaders

Last weekend's 38-9 demolition of the Reds, combined with their 43-15 thrashing of the Chiefs earlier this month, means that the Crusaders are not your typical away underdogs this time round.

The seven-time champions know how to win these titles, but perhaps not like this. Only one side has ever gone on to win a Super Rugby championship after playing a semi-final away from home.

A tense semi-final means a half-time draw at 11/1 is worthy of some attention, particularly if both defences hold firm early on and the boots of Aaron Cruden/Gareth Anscombe and Dan Carter prevail. For either side to open the scoring with a drop-goal is down at 22/1.

If the Chiefs however play with the same expansive width that has seen them finish as one of the best attacking sides in the league, then backing the hosts to win by 13 points or more at 11/2 could prove to be fruitful. If that lead were to extend into the region of 16-20 points, then a bet on the Chiefs at 17/1 makes sense.

Given that the Crusaders were victorious by a margin of 28 points when the two sides last met, even though a repeat feels unlikely, a win by 26-30 points this time around matches odds of 19/1.

Having found his way to the line already on six occasions this season, how can you not back monster tighthead prop Ben Tameifuna to do the same again at 25/1 as an anytime tryscorer?

Kieran Read tends to come to the fore in these big matches and the interim All Blacks skipper is down at 22/1 to score a brace of tries for the Crusaders. For those feeling exceptionally brave, an Asaeli Tikoirotuma hat-trick comes in at 80/1, with Zac Guildford at 75/1.

Bulls v Brumbies

Whilst there may be some doubt over who are the true favourites in Hamilton, make no mistake about who the bookies fancy in Pretoria.

The Bulls have been more or less excellent through 2013, especially at home, whilst the tour of the British and Irish Lions seems to have sucked the Brumbies momentum out of an impressive campaign – a dodgy loss to the Force and then a two-point nervy success over the Cheetahs bringing them into the semi-finals.

For that reason a Brumbies win by any margin represents some value – either at 3/1 by 1-12 points or 11/1 for 13 points or more.

A second-half comeback from Jake White's side at 10/1 is a possible opportunity, whilst a Brumbies winning margin of 11-15 points at 18/1 is another to catch the eye.

Bjorn Basson and Akona Ndungane lead the first try-scoring odds at 8/1 and 9/1 respectively with Paddy Power, whilst Henry Speight on the opposite side, who has crossed the whitewash eight times in 2013, is down at 11/1.

Peter Kimlin's time with the Brumbies is drawing to a close as he heads to Grenoble, but the flanker has been in superb form this season and should be considered at 11/1 as an anytime try-scorer. The forgotten man of the Brumbies backline, Tevita Kuridrani, is worth considering at 22/1 for a try double.

Coming back to Speight, the soon-to-be Wallaby international fetches 75/1 for a hat-trick in the biggest game of his career so far. It is not a challenge completely beyond him.

A Brumbies try by any player as the first score of the match is going at 7/1, whilst a Morné Steyn drop-goal would come as no surprise yet still fetches 18/1.

Good luck!