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While we are transitioning into International mode and also at Club Rugby too going into the 2nd half of 2024 next month, let’s look back at the 2024 Super Rugby Season following the Blues A+ Grand Final performance that sealed their long-awaited drought for their 4th championship trophy for the first time since 2003 over the Chiefs at Eden Park last night.

It began with the Crusaders largely not being the same team anymore that won them multiple championships despite their late season resurgence where they were one place short of the Top 8 while the Melbourne Rebels had a rare spectacular run on the field in 8th before their poor financial health regardless of this however unfortunately ended the team’s 14 year existence. Plus, NSW Waratahs were at an all-time low once again other than the two wins v Crusaders off the back of numerous injuries in the treatment room, particularly with their front rowers. Queensland Reds also had some fresh breath of under new coach Les Kiss including the Highlanders with their big rebuilding phase over in Otago but then they were both nowhere near past the Quarter-Finals alongside the Fijian Drua off the back of another excellent home season in 7th. Time will tell if the Drua will continue to progress & go Top 6 under a new coach while looking to improve their away form next season.

The same goes with the ACT Brumbies who continues to fall short in the semis yet again as they still continue to hold the title as Australia’s No.1 Super Rugby team, although we did witness a surprise semi elimination in the top-ranked Hurricanes by the Chiefs before the Waikato-based franchise weren’t simply up to the task against the championship-winning Blues last night. Nothing much also happened to Moana Pasifika and the Western Force when they had some wins off the back of a huge off-season drive but both are still underwhelming for the majority. It remains to be seen if the Force will benefit from the Rebels demise in an 11-team competition (short term) next year that would hopefully improve Australia’s record in Super Rugby as well as Wallabies at International level, so they can look to win games again. If not, while we understand of having a national footprint when the world has changed nowadays – three teams may finally be the way to go again with Rugby Australia helping the Force out elsewhere like reviving Global Rapid Rugby & have them play against teams in South East Asia.

And finally, congratulations to the Blues on their fourth championship when they first won this competition back-to-back while Super Rugby was born under Super 12 back in 1996 followed by a 3rd one in 2003 before they finally broken the 21-year hoodoo last night on top of the short-lived Trans-Tasman crown over the Highlanders during COVID back in 2021. They too have been unstoppable who can unseat any team including the top regular-season ranked Hurricanes while setting the standard all along including the Grand Final v Chiefs, even without Beauden Barrett at least in the short term until next year due to him playing in Japan. But it’s all about having an excellent group of players who is still around day in, day out alongside an experienced head coach of Vern Cotter after lifting his first major silverware off the back of long stints in France & Scotland.

So there you go for 2024 as Season 2025 would see 16 regular season matches and two weekly byes alongside a Top 6 Finals system like it was back in 2011-15 with the Top 2 going straight into the semis with 3rd-6th placed teams to play in the first week Quarter-Finals, then the other winning two will face the best two in the Final Four before the best of the best two teams will battle it out in the hope of lifting that championship next time around in 12 months’ time. After that, depending on the four Australian teams performance, Super Rugby would ideally like to say 12 teams but would otherwise have to go with 10.

The South African teams are well and truly happy in Europe following their split back in late 2020 while Japan wants to stay on its own with the Top League, a Jaguares reunion from Argentina may still pose financial and logistical issues & having Canada and USA onboard including a Hawaii-based team is still far off competitively right now for at least the next 10 years.

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What a Final it was to finish the 2024 Super Rugby Season at Eden Park where the Blues finally got their moment with the Championship 41-10 after being simply too good to beat The Chiefs from Waikato for the first time in a long, long time that goes way back to 2003. Although don’t forget they did win the Super Rugby Trans-Tasman v the Highlanders also at the same place a few years ago when COVID restricted much of the norm at that time. Not only the Blues were clearly in front during the first half (20-3) off the back of two tries and two penalty goals, but they also continued to extend their lead with more tries including a Caleb Clarke double to finish his hat-trick. It was more than enough to pull off on the run home (41-10) with the easy Blues final victory whereas Chiefs only grasped whenever they can after they threw away for the majority while they were nowhere near the Blues danger zone including one first-half penalty goal & one late TRY thanks to a few fresh faces.

Now that the 2024 Super Rugby season is over, we will turn our attention to International Rugby next month beginning with the two game series v Wales followed by Georgia for the one-off occasion for Joe Schmidt’s first slate of matches as the Wallabies new Head Coach. We will also have some Club Rugby in between with the NSW Shute Shield & QLD’s Hospital Cup as well as a bit of Rugby 7s at the Summer Olympics in Paris, France a little over next month. Then it’s Rugby Championship & Bledisloe Cup time to finish off across August and September before we finish off 2024 with the November Tests in Europe.

Hat-trick championship winner Caleb Clarke tops the Grand Final list on the Blues left wing after his A + performance tonight at Eden Park. You cannot believe what he does with the ball every time he’s moments away from the in-goal before Caleb blows the opposition players away off his explosive pace. Gotta say the Chiefs have been clearly warned about their ill-discipline over and over again & thanks to the dominant possession and winning penalties, Caleb waited at the right time to gift the Blues their big trophy. There’s another sensational moment that warmed the Blues hearts tonight and it’s Harry Plummer whose conversion kicks looks 100% spotless through all angles at the starting 10 role tonight. Yes, this was a huge role to fill to drive the Blues attacking engine when Beauden Barrett sat out for the year in Japan. But he threw himself into the deep end with unfinished business and Harry proved to the world that he’s done it in a championship-winning team at The Blues – time will tell if Scott Robertson (also new Head Coach) gives him a go soon enough later this year for the All Blacks.

Congratulations to the Blues on an unbelievable all-round display that can wow any team after finishing 2nd including the Hurricanes & the Chiefs en route to their 4th Super Rugby title since 2003 as well as the Trans-Tasman trophy back in 2021.

And Anton Lienert-Brown did the best he can to break down the Blues areas all along in the Chiefs outside centre backline at 13. He’s got the power and physical grit that gave his side a couple of chances with the ball where Anton can not only turn things over, apply pressure and win a couple of penalties defensively; But he also can find himself with a bit of space going forward including the one and only TRY assist to Simon Parker later in the 2nd half. It’s heart breaking to see him & the Chiefs fell short once again following another brilliant season. But Chiefs weren’t simply up to their game unfortunately such as the poor discipline forced the Blues hand so many times while they just couldn’t find the breakthrough in their counter-attack.

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89 games done, one to go to finish off the 2024 Super Rugby Season with a sold out crowd ahead of Saturday’s Final between two of the last two year’s runner-ups where one of them will be going one better for the Championship – It’s The Blues from Auckland (2022 runner-up) v The Chiefs from Waikato (last year’s runner up) at Eden Park. The last time the Blues won a trophy in the actual Super Rugby competition was back in 2003 v Crusaders as well as the short-lived Trans-Tasman trophy due to COVID three years ago v the Highlanders while the Chiefs last won back in 2013 in a home final v the ACT Brumbies.


It will be mostly be an unchanged line-up apart from their hookers with Samisoni Taukeiaho out due to an leg injury from last Saturday’s semi-final win v Hurricanes as well as Manaaki Selby-Rikit for Naitoa Ah Kuoi in one of the team’s reserve locks, so Tyrone Thompson will be thrown into the deep end for Taukeiaho who hasn’t started since last year’s regular season finale v the Western Force. You would think Bradley Slater would get that chance instead of Thompson but he would still be the team’s useful finisher when coming off the bench later on as the reserve hooker. Despite some injury cloud, the Chiefs are set to toughen up their defense to try and stop the Blues from scoring from the start while looking to exploit on the counter-attack by having the speedy full-back Shaun Stevenson back to lead the line that pushes Daniel Rona back on the team’s bench line.


The same would go with the Blues other than the return of Patrick Tuipulotu on their starting second row for Josh Beehre (demoted to the bench) at No.4. We thought the skipper would be originally out until the start of the International season next month for the All Blacks but he’s worked so hard to push way back into selection lately since that Quarter-Final MCL knee tear v the Drua three weeks ago on what is going to be a very big 80 minutes for him to hopefully steer the Blues with the Championship win they really deserved. A strong forwards pack should do the job to stop the quick Chiefs attack defensively in its tracks while giving their backline a run of their money. Hopefully, that would the key when it comes to making that support play work through the gate or the Chiefs’ wall in order to get the big points they accrue off a full 80 run in attack.

Final Thoughts & Predictions

You can say that the Chiefs had their lows at times in the last couple of regular season games a few weeks ago, particularly when they were away from home. However, they’ve been excellent all along throughout the Finals across New Zealand so far & other than the big blow of Taukeiaho, they still got enough attacking fire and the physical steel to bring this championship all the way back to Waikato. Blues, on the other hand, knows how to get the ball rolling right from the word go with early tries on the board. Yes, they might have their own weaknesses at times but the Blues will not down their tools that early in order to keep that winning lead away from the opposition as the game goes on before they can hopefully finally see that winning light at the end of the day with their long-awaited championship the Blues have been chasing for so long that goes back to 2003.

It’s going to be a cracking match to finish off the 2024 Super Rugby Season on a high after we witnessed the highs and lows over the last 18 weeks – such as no Crusaders in the Playoffs for the first time in a long time off the back of key personnel moving on, ACT Brumbies falling short in the semis yet again, The Hurricanes’ top barren run also shockingly ended outside the Grand Final by the Chiefs last Saturday and the Melbourne Rebels’ rare magical season towards their one and only Quarter-Finals was being eventually cut off by their huge financial difficulties that became too difficult for them to survive.

Who will going to win the Grand Final? It’s going to be a very close finish but The Blues will get their moment with the win over the Chiefs by 15 points. Make sure you tune in this Saturday afternoon at 4.30pm AEST ahead of kick-off (5.05pm) where it will be shown on both Stan Sport (streaming subscription required without ads) & 9Gem (Nine’s free-to-air multi-channel).

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So there we have it, the 4th-ranked Chiefs have just eliminated the 1st-ranked Hurricanes on their home fortress during the 2nd semi-final at Sky Stadium in Wellington. Now two runner-up finalists from the last two years will can only become one champion for that Super Rugby trophy in next Saturday’s Final at Eden Park as the Blues will take on the  Chiefs with kick-off at 5.05pm AEST. The First half belongs to the Chiefs following a sensational start with early tries from Samipeni Finau and Cortez Ratima whereas the Hurricanes only collected just the one TRY ahead of half-time, 7-17. The home side might have prepared to scare off the Chiefs in the hope of playing in their first Final since 2016. But at the end of the day, it’s the Chiefs who managed to get the job done on what is going to be yet another Final this time v the Blues. Plus, another late Hurricanes TRY wasn’t enough to continue their spectacular 2024 campaign following their semi-finals exit alongside the regular outside finalists ACT Brumbies. The final score was 19-30 to the Chiefs over Hurricanes at Sky Stadium with one more game to go.

21-year-old Wallace Sititi has been going places with his brute strength and pace through the channels inside his Chiefs No.8 position. He can do all sorts of things  to put the Chiefs ahead like how the Hurricanes couldn’t find their own man & then Sititi read well to turn this into his own show & tell in front of Wellington and away Chiefs fans. Yes, he too would’ve liked to score one himself after another set of sprints not far from the TRY line, but Wallace definitely caused the Canes trouble in order for the best for his side to advance into the Final for another year. Chiefs also have an exciting half-back to cheer on in the hope of bringing home that championship and it’s their starting No.9 Cortez Ratima. He never stopped working hard for the most part before his well deserved rest later in the 2nd half, who knows where to find the sweet spot while backing them up with the ball on the counter-attack, thanks to the numbers he’s got to strike one down v the Hurricanes. His partnership with No.10 Damian McKenzie & the way he communicates with his players is important, so they can keep on working that magic by haunting another top side away from home at Eden Park in the Blues once again – this time for the Grand Final.

And Isaia Walker-Leawere did the best he can to push his Hurricanes side as much as possible on the second row at 5. He demonstrated brute physicality to smash the Chiefs through & dig his way both in attack and defense where the Canes never gave up until the Chiefs continued to increase their lead later on and unfortunately there’s nothing they can do as the clock ticks down. As said, they’ve had some terrific moments throughout this season that helped top the Super Rugby ladder. Yes, if it wasn’t for the no tries then the Hurricanes would’ve had been up close with the Chiefs all along to hang in there so they can get the chance to play in a Final and maybe be the next winner before & after the Crusaders for the Championship. But again, a very poor defense along with the limited possession following a bad start saw the writing off the wall by the Waikato Chiefs. 

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The first of the two 2024 Super Rugby semi-finals was already underway at Eden Park in Auckland with the Blues v ACT Brumbies as the home side fired off really well with a couple of early tries that gave them a comfortable position to stay ahead. Meanwhile, Brumbies made good use of these early three-point penalty goals before they finally got one over the TRY line not long before half-time. Although they walked away with a huge trail behind the Blues by 14 points at half-time, 27-13.

Brumbies when they finally got themselves going have dominated possession that made the Blues sweating in their own area at one point. However, a series of failed executions alongside continuous handling errors and ill-discipline despite the winning penalties forced the Blues hand. That’s where the Blues extended their lead before their finals spot was confirmed as they are back in business hoping they will win that championship after falling short to the Crusaders at home two years ago.

The Final score at was Blues 34-20 Brumbies as we look ahead to the second semi-final tomorrow afternoon to decide who will be facing the Blues in the Grand Final at Sky Stadium in Wellington where the No.1 ranked Hurricanes side take on the Chiefs. If Hurricanes win then they will be hosting it at home whereas the Chiefs win would mean the Blues take over instead.

AJ Lam loves to make good use of the ball every time he’s got it with blistering pace and creativity when looking for some support to beat the opposition (ACT Brumbies) areas for the Blues at second five-eighth (No.12 shirt). He’s happy to get away with an excellent start such as that opening TRY on the wide right (he can also play on the wing too) to open the Blues account. He also has the energy to smash his way past their blocks and can nail them down like a hammer in defense that reflects his good progress in 2024. You also got a long-time Blues stalwart in right winger Mark Telea who also put up such a top notch effort in front of his supporters at Eden Park. He’s an excellent communicator with such a towering build as being tested in defense and attack while Mark has the licence to thrill through the channels that made the opposition look off-guard. Yes, he might not have scored any tries tonight but he’s there to help the Blues win games – and that is exactly he wants to do in order to walk away with the No.1 Super Rugby trophy for next Saturday’s Final v Hurricanes or Chiefs.

And Blindside Flanker Rob Valetini did the best he can to put the Brumbies on the map following another semi-finals shortcoming away from home. He’s so destructive physically with the ball on hand that handed his side winning penalties to accrue these points on the board as well as making the most out of these attacking opportunities thanks to the winning advantage and possession that includes two of the team’s tries off his own forwards department. Unfortunately, they just didn’t make the most out of their executions and advantages such as the handling errors that went the Blues way yet again towards the end. Let’s hope a tweaked talent pool next year would help the Brumbies finally crack that code for the Final.

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It’s been a huge week of Rugby Union here this week where the last four teams still in contention have been prepping hard ahead of the weekend’s semi finals action starting tomorrow while a few players have been out and about when it comes to relocating to another club ahead of next season with one taking up a code switch rather than looking to stay within here at a different Super Rugby club or go overseas and a surprise guest came up last night in the Aussie Olympic Swimming Trials.

Super Rugby Semi-Finals preview starting tomorrow

The 2024 Super Rugby semi-finals will kick off tomorrow night with the first semi-final game between the Blues and ACT Brumbies at Eden Park in Auckland before semi-final 2 stops there during the Saturday afternoon when the No.1 ranked Hurricanes host the Chiefs at Sky Stadium in Wellington. Will we see a Brumbies breakthrough at last or else The Blues stand strong and tough on home fortress? On the other hand, can the Chiefs make the main event for the 2nd straight year by upsetting the leaders or will the Hurricanes step one ahead in their unreal campaign going into next Saturday’s Grand Final?

This is all to play for when the Crusaders is out of the running at least in the short-term this season, it could open up a really good opportunity for the Brumbies to make a statement on behalf of the sport in Australia whose performance gauge has been underwhelming for a very long time while the team itself has always been regular semi-finalists over the last few years. It’s going to be difficult unfortunately to say unless they go & surprise all of us as the Blues will look to shut them out at home yet again by 15 points like they did earlier this year 46-7 during Round 8 and two years ago with the previous meeting semi-final. For those watching every Saturday on 9Gem, tune in tomorrow from 4.30pm so you don’t miss out ahead of kick-off.

Meanwhile, Hurricanes look set to be real favourites to win that semi-final since their 2024 season has been mostly outstanding despite the injury of half-back Cam Roigard. They’ve got a really good group of players including their bench that puts them way ahead on the Super Rugby map. But don’t forget the Chiefs is not out of the running just yet despite their inconsistencies combined with back-to-back losses v Hurricanes and Blues in the last few rounds of the season. especially when playing away from home after their Quarter-Final win v Queensland Reds last Friday. They are a team that has made massive progress though and the Chiefs would wanna go out on a bang in the hope of making the Final for another year, although don’t get your hopes up as they just need to take things one a time while DMac smiles his way through the sticks.

Life without the Melbourne Rebels with a few players looking to be on the move as one just made the switch to Rugby League

A week on from the Melbourne Rebels’s sad exit out following its one and only Finals loss in the last eight v Hurricanes, there is one player who has just made the move to Rugby League ahead of next season in young No.10 Carter Gordon at the Gold Coast Titans. He will be sorely missed having gone through the ranks at the Queensland Reds on hometown turf before Carter made a name for himself by moving to Melbourne by making the starting 10 role himself for the Rebels before he gained some experience in the Wallabies shirt despite its worse ever campaign at the World Cup in France last year. But again, he’s got so much potential on the best he can ever be following his development with the Rebels and not seeing him end up back at the Reds or go to the Waratahs is such a painful blow to Rugby here. Surely, he will be a hit in the NRL initially on a two-year contract depending on whether he likes to be around for a long time or not. If he just wants to be here for the two years, then happy to welcome him back at anytime ahead of the home 2027 Rugby World Cup as we wish him all the best.

Other than Carter to NRL, it’s too early to see which players will be ending up within Australia as most of them will expected to stay at any of the four Australian Super Rugby teams on top of Andrew Kellaway, who will be returning home at the Waratahs soon enough, while a few have already committed their next playing time offshore. Time will tell whether or not if they will be able to make some progress that would hopefully translate into Wallabies much-needed resurgence as a four-team group next season. If they are not able to deliver this despite a wee bit of quality of players in Rugby Australia’s main talent pool, then they need to do something about it sooner rather than later with the next TV rights deal set to commit from 2026-2030.

While Brumbies won’t ever face the cut since they’ve been always strong on the field despite some financial and crowd filling difficulties with the Waratahs and Reds being foundation teams that belongs in strong/traditional Rugby markets here that goes back to the 1800s, it’s up for the Western Force to finally deliver on the field or else they’d be best either merging with the Sunwolves/Moana Pasifika, expand into PNG or play Global Rapid Rugby in Asia again. Yes, the world has changed these days with 4-5 teams but sometimes things just wasn’t the same when the Wallabies were so good with three teams back then.

Drew Mitchell back on Nine after all in a while ahead of the upcoming Summer Olympics after he took part in the Celebrity Swimming event last night

While the Australian Olympic Swimming Trials is ongoing midway through the week at Brisbane Aquatic Centre, we saw one Rugby person poolside, who is an ex-Wallaby winger and also used to be on Nine and Stan’s Rugby Union coverage from the beginning until he was let go at the end of last year, in none other than Drew Mitchell. He was part of the celebrity swimming race last night where he swam 1 x 50m stint for Team Payne alongside Melbourne Cup winner Michelle Payne and Olympic Gold Medalist Duncan Armstrong before he confirmed to Roz Kelly after the race that he will be part of Nine’s Olympic commentary line-up for Rugby Sevens alongside Sera Naiqama. Yes, it’s a bit unusual seeing him only on the one channel and not all on the one Nine platforms like Stan Sport but that’s a separate contract when not many of them will be available for the Olympics as most of the ex-players they’ve got usually have more experience than at Sevens level. You can also think Morgan Turinui can easily be part of that group for Nine but will still be on Stan’s group as their resident Rugby 7s expert.

As we all know, he’s the guy that likes to be around when it comes to having fun and giving his insights that goes back from his playing days, having first worked for Fox Sports not long after he retired before he was made redundant after the 2019 Rugby World Cup. Although he was given a lifeline when Nine/Stan took over the rights at the start of 2021, he only did studio analysis/sideline reporting for the most part while doing relief game commentary since they prefer Morgan Turinui up there alongside Tim Horan and caller Sean Maloney. Then he barely featured only on Nine during last year’s World Cup particularly on Sports Sunday and maybe on the sports news reports before he was dropped not long after the tournament was over and Drew had no choice but to fight for his media employment in court, which unfortunately didn’t change the outcome.

He has since moved on by appearing in the Kick Off and Kick Ons podcast on a regular basis including at all home Wallabies games later this year alongside ex-Wallabies Matt Giteau, Adam-Ashley Cooper & Host James Rochford. For now, it was great seeing him on Nine again with a bit more to come at the Olympics before Drew is happy to hang around at KOKO every week.

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The 4th and last Quarter-Final Super Rugby match of 2024 stops at GIO Stadium in Canberra as the 3rd placed ACT Brumbies welcome back the 6th placed Highlanders from Dunedin after being forced to sit outside the Top 8 last year for the first time since 2022. The first half was tight with the Highlanders benefiting the winning penalties such as two penalty conversions plus the one TRY but it was the Brumbies that controlled the pitch where they went into the break with a one-point buffer, 17-16.

In the end though, it’s all about the Brumbies who continued to extend their lead with another two tries – despite seeing another physical battle with Highlanders unable to get over the line even with the ball on hand before time ticks away against them towards full-time. The final score was Brumbies 32-16 Highlanders as the home fans will now book their flights by following their team with pride and optimism to Eden Park in Auckland v the Blues that will take place on Friday night this time around at 5pm during the early evening here. If you’re used to watching on 9Gem during Saturday nights, make sure you tune in 24 hours earlier for this special one in case you miss out. Before this game, Blues wrapped things up very easily at home turf 36-5 when they continued to shine their all-round attack while the Fijian Drua walked away with just the one TRY. 

One of the best Brumbies players on song off the wide right is Andy Muirhead following his outstanding Quarter-Finals performance v the Highlanders. What would life be like had he played for the Wallabies? Surprised it still hasn’t happened despite being 30 (hoping Joe Schmidt will consider him) where he unpacked so many tricks out of the bag thanks to the dominant possession. All he wanted is for the ball to come to him and that came at the right time when the Brumbies needed to go out wide and he’s your man to wrap things up like a gift present – just unbelievable as always. If one isn’t enough, Charlie Cale is the next best thing on the Brumbies 8 back row at age 23 – who not only was good defensively but also really impressive with his physical grit – that helped crack the walls past the Highlanders. He’s excellent at scrummage and maul time including at the ruck to dig it in while being an excellent support player with his mobility where tries were made possible for the Brumbies. He left the pitch after 50 odd mins in a very good position off the back of a good restart straight after half-time.

Now it’s up for the Brumbies to go one better for the Grand Final by going up against 2nd-placed Blues in Eden Park on Friday night. They’ve fallen short including the last semis encounter there when Super Rugby came back to normal two years ago as winning the trophy would mean anything & everything to both the Canberra-based team, the Wallabies & Rugby Australia.

And Highlanders No.10 Cam Millar was really good off his kicking tee in all areas that gave his team an early headstart thanks to the winning penalties & early Brumbies handling errors. Gotta credit the scrambled defense & the scrummaging where the Highlanders were able to pick up some positives against the No.1 Australian Super Rugby team like that restart later during the 1st half, having closed it out so quickly off the left by Jona Nareki. But their Finals comeback after finishing 6th has unfortunately came to an end after they were just unable to grasp their attack for the most part, especially with low possession while couldn’t get the job done from one point down in the last 40. There is still a long way to go which is a far cry when they used to be oh so good like a decade go but the Highlanders are getting there & hopefully be Top 4 by 2025-2026.

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After 14 years of existence including a huge on-field fight in their final ever campaign despite its poor and fading financial position, the Melbourne Rebels exited the first week of finals this year with their head held high thanks to two late 2nd half tries off the back of Lachie Anderson’s superb double finish off the right as well as Carter Gordon’s continued emergence from start to finish in the starting 10 jersey. The real winner though you’re looking at is the No.1 ranked Hurricanes at Sky Stadium who was both unstoppable and also too good all along to comfortably advance into the 2nd semi-final next Saturday v the Chiefs back at the same place but on slightly later time during the night. First 40 was an arm wrestle where Rebels had the early headstart off the penalty conversion for the first 20 odd minutes before the Canes finally got the ball rolling with two converted big points by tighthead forward Pasillo Tosi and right winger Joshua Moorby going into half-time, 14-6. Nothing much happened later on other than the Canes’ continued scoring spree with tries mainly being shared across a few of their forward pack. Yes, as said from above, the Rebels did find a way to collect a couple by the time elimination was almost certain before Hurricanes didn’t mind scoring a few more towards full-time with a excellent two-try cameo by their substitutes, 47-20.

So the first two quarter-finals have now been ticked off where the first semi on Friday night sees the Hurricanes return to their home turf at Sky Stadium and the team to beat will be the 4th placed Chiefs, who had an outstanding first half last night with an easy win to hang in there & keep that Finals hopes alive (43-21) – despite seeing their reserves fall off the pace in the last 40 v Queensland Reds in Waikato. The 2nd half of Quarter-Finals will soon finish tonight to make up the other semis game where one will face either Hurricanes or Chiefs for the Grand Final, with Blues (2nd) currently playing the Fijian Drua (7th again) at Eden Park in Auckland right now followed by ACT Brumbies (3rd) v Highlanders (6th) at GIO Stadium in Canberra.

Gotta say Brayden Iose put in such a physical battle to not only nail down defensively but also crack the code in return with one TRY for himself not long after half-time in the Hurricanes 8 position. He’s the guy who lived up to his potential having unpacked a great eye off his towering height while digging deeper with the ball that got the best out the Canes’ TRY-scoring opportunities left, right and centre as all of this is what made the Canes dominate this competition with an early rest to the bench. Meanwhile, Jordie Barrett also did so well at first five-eighth in the Hurricanes midfield 12 where he knows where to find his man out wide either way as long as there’s numbers in there that puts his team on the map big time by playing off the 10 of Brett Cameron. He can also kick when required as seen on occasions before while bringing it back to protect his forwards when it comes to the defensive contribution as they do to help him through the ruck that led to more and more opportunities with the ball, so he can get the best out of this through the gate. Communication along with a full 80 performance including a strong bench would hopefully see the Canes at last get the past the semis next Saturday as the last time they’ve played in a Grand Final was back in 2016 where they’ve beaten the Lions from Johannesburg on home soil, 20-3.

Lastly, Lachie Anderson is the man who lightens up every time he steers home to score the TRY off the wide right for the Rebels including the last ever two in the team’s last ever match earlier this afternoon. We know he’s grown a lot in the search of discovering his best on-field firstly at home through the junior and early senior ranks in Sydney before he was a regular in the 7s for some time and then made a name for himself by going strength to strength with the ball on hand while chasing down the opposition for a couple of seasons in the XVs – despite no Wallabies call-up yet at 26 as sure he will be a great addition for any of the four Australian Super Rugby teams if Lachie wishes to continue in Super Rugby here next season.

And on the Rebels, it’s been a pleasure watching you play on the field by fighting for the Melbournians on what you do and give back best for Rugby Union in the area after 14 years. It’s not easy and also sad to see that Melbourne professional part of Rugby Union go but it is what it is as wish the players & coaching staff as well as the behind the scenes admin and medical stuff all the best wherever they go – hopefully we will see most of them up staying within here at another club than overseas.

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The first of the 2024 Super Rugby finals has just been getting started where 4th placed Chiefs host 5th placed Queensland Reds at Waikato Stadium. First half saw a massive show from the Chiefs in front of their home supporters that puts them in a healthy position going into half-time, 31-0. Yes, the 2nd half was won by the Reds alone off the back of some tries when a few new faces from the Chiefs bench might not have exactly shined a light as the starters. However, Reds were still nowhere near the Chiefs all along where they continued to pick up more errors whereas the Chiefs were able to extend their lead whenever and wherever possible that ensured the Waikato supporters another year in the semi-finals going into next weekend, 43-21.

The winner for Quarter-Final 2 early tomorrow afternoon at Sky Stadium in Wellington would see the 1st-placed Hurricanes or 8th-placed Melbourne Rebels (soon to be shut down not based on regular season form this season unfortunately due to financial reasons) take on the Chiefs going for the 1st semi game which will now be on next Saturday afternoon. Plus, the 2nd Saturday night semi would be finalised off the last two Quarter-Final games across the entirety of tomorrow night in both Auckland & Canberra time respectively with Blues (2nd) v Fijian Drua (7th) and ACT Brumbies (3rd) v Highlanders (6th).

Samipeni Finau kept the Chiefs in check in all areas both in defense and attack on the blindside No.6 tonight. He never stopped running and smashing into places that gave the best run for his money thanks to his team’s brilliant backline, so they can get the job done for him with as seen with their outstanding 1st 40. Yes, the Reds might have some moments of their later in the 2nd half off the back of the Chiefs subs but his towering and rock solid physicality would be key in next week’s semi v Hurricanes or Rebels. Samisoni Taukeiaho was also another Chiefs player who did so well as the starting hooker (No.2). He’s got plenty of power to unpack such as his throwing-in accuracy and most importantly, his physical strength to plow his way into opposition defenders with two first-half tries. He earned his early rest after 50 odd mins of play with his reserve Bradley Slater also doing so well with just the one 2nd half TRY for himself that would hopefully see them win semis once again.

And despite the Reds leaving the Playoffs early yet again, gotta say competition isn’t bad when it comes to reserve No.10 Lawson Creighton following his impressive impact for Tom Lynagh later in the 2nd half. He got straight into it by changing up the attack for the Reds even though catching up to the Chiefs is very much impossible with two successful conversion kicks sandwiched in between one late TRY for himself. If he did all of that magic from the start, it would’ve been a different story when Les Kiss gave Ballymore a new lease of life off Brad Thorn – just not the Reds night sadly to finish off their 2024 season.

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After 15 weeks of regular season action, let the three-week Playoffs begin as we are edging closer to close out the 2024 Super Rugby Season before the International season begins next month off the back of a three-game series (Wallabies v Wales and All Blacks v England) as well as bit of Club Rugby in between (NSW Shute Shield and QLD Hospital Cup as well as New Zealand’s National Provincial Championship) followed by The Rugby Championship & Bledisloe Cup throughout August and September. Here’s what you need to know which of the Top 8 have made it and which four have been left out of the cold.

The four teams that were eliminated outside the Top 8 bubble are the NSW Waratahs following so many injuries (mainly the front row department) combined with very poor form other than winning both games v the Crusaders as if 2014 comes around again (12th), Moana Pasifika even though they made some progress by winning a few games but they’re still not yet competitive as they would’ve liked during their third season (11th), Western Force when they had a poor start off the back of a huge off-season drive but some rare wins here and there only at home as the campaign goes on wasn’t enough to justify their slim Finals hopes (10th) & lastly, the Crusaders with so many key men moved on including the seasoned winning head coach combined with a few injuries whose recent winning form & some unlucky losses just wasn’t enough to make it on time (9th).

We will begin with the 4th & 5th placed team tonight at around 5pm AEST between the Chiefs and Queensland Reds once again at FMG Stadium in Waikato. Can we see the Reds go one better or will the Chiefs continue its strong NZ teams run going into the second week semis next weekend? Then we have all three games throughout Saturday from early afternoon to night to round off the first week’s play. We will pick it up from there between the 1st and 8th placed match of the Hurricanes and the Melbourne Rebels. Rebels had a great on-field season thanks to a brilliant front row while their backline has been sublime but their constant off-field troubles financially saw the writing off the wall to the Melbourne-based team after 14 years. Yes, making the finals for the first time is a great way to end things on a high but then it’s like an extra round of rugby as the favourites remain to the Canes with a new Super Rugby champion being crowned soon now that the Crusaders is out.

Saturday night in New Zealand sees the Fijian Drua play in their 2nd straight Playoffs year after finishing 7th again in their third season of existence. They will be up against another difficult team likewise in the Blues who will be hosting them at Eden Park in Auckland. Can the Drua finally live up to its full potential when they haven’t been great away from home or will the Blues continue its championship hunt going into the semis yet again & win a trophy that the fans have long been waiting for (2021 Trans-Tasman trophy doesn’t count) since the start of the 2020s? And finally we finish off the big Saturday at GIO Stadium in Canberra between the ACT Brumbies and the returning Highlanders who is now back in the Top 8 after they fell short in 9th last year. Well, the Highlanders had their moments this season as whether or not if they can continue their resurgence by causing a storm to the best Australian Super Rugby team? If not, will see the Brumbies make the semis once more and hopefully they go one better to hopefully be the next Australian Super Rugby winner after the Tahs 10 years ago.

And with Super Rugby moving on with a 11-team competition next year (for now) with two weeks of byes and an extra regular season round, this is widely expected to be the last year we will see an eight-team Finals format since its big and then reduced expansion back in 2016. The quarter-finals may stay on but it will be slightly different by going with a six-team Finals route as it once was before between 2011-2015 where the Top 2 teams will get the first week off with two matches instead of four – 4th v 5th (winner meets 1st) and 3rd v 6th (winner meets 2nd). It’s still a long way away from its absolute best even with South Africa now already moved on and thriving across Europe as we will go with four Australian teams from five while it remains to see if Moana Pasifika and even the Western Force can lift themselves up from the bottom at least over the next year or two.

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