Hometown heroes to give Chiefs the blues

The upsets keep coming in Super Rugby Pacific with the top qualifiers, the Hurricanes, rolled by the fourth-placed Chiefs and deservedly so.

Our tipsters struggled to get both games, apart from in Wanaka, where five of the eight correctly picked the two winners. Stunning stuff.

At Eden Park, the Blues did what they did all season and crushed the Brumbies up front, especially in the first spell. They are masters of strangling the life out of the opposition in their own 22. They’ve scored most of their tries from close range and that happened again on Friday night. The game was out of the Brumbies’ reach by halftime and the Blues, with their 34-20 win, now have a home final on Saturday night.

In Wellington on Saturday, the Chiefs started as if they were on steroids and threw everything at the Canes, who couldn’t handle the pressure. Tyro No 8 Wallace Sititi and halfback Cortez Ratima put their hands up for higher honours with some stunning spells for the Chiefs.

The Chiefs were up 17-7 at the break and had the game at their mercy. Their loosies terrorised the Canes into numerous errors and they just didn’t recover. They played better in the second spell, but their game was done, 19-30, as the Chiefs marched into the local derby final.

But at what cost? Samisoni Taukei’aho limped off with a serious ACL injury and replacement hooker Brad Slater was on one leg before going off with a head knock.

Average tipping in Southland apart from Richard from Collingwood Foodcentre, and wooden spoon Grant from Carpets & Drapes. Shane from GWD is one point ahead of Ben at Shoe Clinic so it all comes down to the last game. Good luck lads.

As an aside, Southland’s favourite son, Simon Culhane, failed to trouble the scorers!

So who wins the final?

It will be a big, noisy crowd in Auckland but the game is nearly too close to call. The Chiefs will have their hooker woes to solve and Shaun Stevenson didn’t front on Saturday. The Blues’ pack should have the edge in the tight but the Chiefs’ loosies are in rampaging form and are brutal on defence.

Whoever wins that battle wins the game.

There is not much between the backlines. I’ll stick with the home team (12-) but the Chiefs will have plenty to say about that! Good punting.

 - By Paul Dwyer