The top four teams survived the first week of the Super Rugby playoffs. Here's a breakdown of the semifinal match-ups.

Semifinal 1 - Crusaders v Hurricanes, Saturday 7.35pm

Last meeting: Round 15 Crusaders 24 Hurricanes 13

It's the first playoff meeting between these two sides since 2008 when the Crusaders won 33-22 to book a spot in the final. The Crusaders have won the three playoff meetings between the two franchises, all played in Christchurch, including the 2006 'fog final.

The Crusaders have lost just twice in 17 games this season — both to New Zealand opposition — are unbeaten at home all season, and are chasing a record-extending ninth title. The next-best teams in Super Rugby history have won three.


New Zealand teams have won 15 of the 22 Super Rugby titles, five of the last six, and the last three. The team to break the recent run was the Waratahs in 2014.

Read more: Clinical Crusaders too good for Sharks
Read more: Hurricanes make semifinals with comprehensive one-point win over Chiefs

Semifinal 2 - Lions v Waratahs, Sunday 1.05am

Last meeting: Round 10 - Waratahs 0 Lions 29, Sydney

The Lions have a chance to make it three straight finals appearances when they host the Waratahs on Sunday morning NZT.

They are still seeking a first title having lost to the Hurricanes and Crusaders in the last two finals. They secured a home semifinals following a 40-23 win over the Jaguares in Johannesburg.

Ruan Combrinck caught a cross-kick from flyhalf and man-of-the-match Elton Jantjies and slipped through the Jaguares' defense for the first try. Center Harold Vorster followed up his own kick and pounced on a Jaguares error for the second. Hooker Malcolm Marx intercepted and scooted 50 meters for the third try. The Lions led 24-9 at halftime.

Playing in their first Super Rugby quarterfinal, the Jaguares closed the gap to four points when wing Bautista Delguy and captain Pablo Matera went over in the first eight minutes of the second half. They couldn't maintain the momentum.

Fullback Andries Coetzee broke Delguy's tackle to run in for the Lions' fourth try following a drive up the middle by the Lions forwards. Jantjies, who had 20 points, kicked a late dropped goal and a penalty to seal it.


Although three of the Lions' four tries were scored by backs, and the other from Marx came from broken play, their forwards dominated the Jaguares' scrum to set the platform.

"They're doing it every single week," Jantjies said. "It makes it easier for us as backs."

Read more: Highlanders stunned by Waratahs after second half meltdown