The Highlanders won't have a chance against the Hurricanes in the Super Rugby final if they remain stuck in their semifinal mode.

The Highlanders are New Zealand rugby's wonderful Cinderella story, but the game in Sydney was the ugly stepsister among the Super Rugby semifinals.

The marauding Highlanders left the Waratahs befuddled, and all power to Jamie Joseph's men. By the end, the Waratahs didn't know where to turn.

The amazing Highlanders have done the impossible with a forward pack of no-names, but on semifinal form they will find the Hurricanes impossible.

Advertisement

The Waratahs were absolutely awful, not helped by a lot of decisions that didn't go their way. Referee Craig Joubert's double whammy - a penalty try and yellow card against Jacques Potgieter - was appalling.

Potgieter's swinging arm was trying to dislodge the ball as Patrick Osborne drove low towards the line. There was no guarantee Potgieter's action prevented the try anyway. Sin binning him was unfair.

But it didn't have any effect on the result. The Waratahs were sliding towards disaster already.

Roll on the all-Kiwi final between two outsiders going into the season.

The travel factor is in the Hurricanes' favour. They'll have some home town advantage, although a good contingent of southern fans pop up all over the place.

But most importantly, the Highlanders will have to construct more than they did in Sydney. The Hurricanes won't take their tactics lying down, as the Waratahs did.

Joubert was touted as the world's best referee but shaky performances and decisions in this game, the 2011 World Cup final and last year's Super Rugby final dent his reputation. He might not be the best choice for the final this time.