Super Rugby Pacific team of the semi-finals as Crusaders and Chiefs shine

Dylan Coetzee
Super Rugby Pacific: Split with Fainga'anuku, Retallick and Jordan

The 2023 Super Rugby Pacific semi-finals served up some thrilling rugby with one of the games as tight as ever and the other a runaway win.

It is no surprise to see the two finalists – the Chiefs and Crusaders – dominate our team of the week from the semi-finals.

Super Rugby team of the semi-finals

15 Will Jordan (Crusaders): The All Black is finding his form at the perfect time and was on hand with another brilliant performance that of course included a try as we have come to expect from the full-back. His overall game was solid too and he will be a key player in the final.

14 Dallas McLeod (Crusaders): Another solid outing for the wing earns him a spot in our side whilst he was also rewarded with a spot in the All Blacks squad. He has had a good week on both sides of the ball and will be looking to take his form into this weekend’s decider.

13 Braydon Ennor (Crusaders): It was a big performance against Rieko Ioane that included a try and an assist for the centre who also beat three defenders along the way. His defence was solid as well as he made most of his tackles and won a turnover. A complete outing from the Crusader.

12 Jack Goodhue (Crusaders): A true defensive masterclass in every sense of the word. The All Black made a whopping 25 tackles in a rock-solid performance that underlines his versatility in the centres. Adding to the ridiculous tackle count are two turnovers won. Hands down the best inside centre in the semi-finals.

11 Leicester Fainga’anuku (Crusaders): Two tries in 54 minutes is never a bad return for a star who is scoring every time he plays at the moment. In nine carries he managed 82 metres, beating six defenders with one clean break. Another good effort from the France-bound star who is set to run out for the Crusaders for his last time this weekend.

10 Damian McKenzie (Chiefs): Whilst Richie Mo’unga really did pull the strings for the Crusaders it is the contributions of the smiling goal-kicker that kicked the Chiefs into the final. McKenzie kicked 14 points and on attack notched up over 100 metres with ball in hand, beating seven defenders in the process. It was a clutch outing from the superstar fly-half.

9 Nic White (Brumbies): There were few stand-out scrum-halves in the semi-final stage but the passionate Australian gets the nod after a decent outing in his last game for the Brumbies. His service and kicking game were solid enough. White also did his very best to get under the skin of his opponents as one would expect.

Chiefs-powered pack

8 Christian Lio-Willie (Crusaders): The number eight’s performance was built on a sound defensive effort that included an impressive 16 tackles and two turnovers won. He was no slouch with ball in hand notching up 15 carries in the semi-final earning his spot in our team.

7 Sam Cane (Chiefs): The All Blacks skipper made valuable contributions throughout for his side where he made 15 tackles and won a turnover. He also made a fair number of carries in a workman-like performance.

6 Rob Valetini (Brumbies): As consistent as ever, the Wallaby came up with an impactful outing on both sides of the ball in a losing effort. He made a whopping 15 carries with ball in hand whilst on defence he tallied up 18 tackles and a turnover. It was a game that underlined his quality and one that gives him good form to take into the Test season.

5 Tupou Vaa’i (Chiefs): The All Black was neat in the line-out and busy throughout the clash. He won four line-outs whilst reaching 12 carries with ball in hand. On defence, he was a rock and made 12 tackles. It was a brilliant effort against a solid Brumbies pack.

4 Brodie Retallick (Chiefs): Big players are expected to stand up in big games and that is exactly what the veteran did. Retallick excelled in just about every aspect of the game as well as scoring the decisive try. He could be seen relishing the battle and produced the goods.

3 George Dyer (Chiefs): The prop anchored his side against a very good Brumbies pack. Not only was he solid at scrum-time, but he was also a rock on defence and contributed 10 tackles in a solid showing.

2 Samisoni Taukei’aho (Chiefs): Whilst Crusaders hooker Codie Taylor managed to cross the whitewash, the Chief edges him in our selection through sheer work-rate. Taukei’aho made 15 tackles on defence and made a ridiculous 19 carries with seven defenders beaten in a tight battle. Outstanding.

1 Aidan Ross (Chiefs): Similar to his prop partner, Ross was a rock on defence with 11 tackles whilst also anchoring his side. His scrummaging was solid enough to keep out the Brumbies and ultimately provide the platform for his side.

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