Mon, Jul 23, 11:27am by Staff Writer
The Waratahs produced a stirring comeback on Saturday night from 23-6 down at the break to progress to the 2018 Super Rugby semi finals.
The Tahs toppled the Highlanders with a burst of three converted tries in eight minutes in the second half and held on for what appeared an unlikely victory.
The home side were out of sorts in the opening 40 minutes, turning over possession repetitively and losing the battle at the breakdown.
A Waisake Naholo sin bin for repeated high tackles turned the game in the Waratahs favour, with the Highlanders rattled from thereon.
A goal-line stand in the final five minutes when they were down to 14 men was pivotal, as the Highlanders couldn’t capitalise on their man advantage.
The Tahs travel to Johannesburg to face the Lions this weekend and are $15 to win the Super Rugby title.
The Lions burst out of the blocks against the Jaguares on Saturday night, amassing a 24-6 lead inside half an hour.
The visitors bounced back with two tries just after half-time to tighten the contest. As has been the case in many Lions matches this season, they have kicked away in the final 20 minutes and were too good for the Jags by a 40-23 scoreline.
This season was the first in which the Jags made the playoffs and certainly gives them a platform to build on going forward.
The Lions are $8 to win Super Rugby after reaching the final in the past two seasons. Unless the Crusaders lose to the Hurricanes, they will need to travel to New Zealand for the Grand Final should they make it.
The Crusaders entered the playoffs as the top-seeded team and flexed their muscle in a dominant 40-10 win against the Sharks on Saturday night.
In greasy conditions in Christchurch, the hosts scored two tries in the opening 15 minutes and were never headed.
The Sharks slowly built into the game as the first half wound down, but continually aimlessly kicked the ball to their opposition and struggled to get their trademark driving maul working effectively.
The Crusaders are in the box-seat for a home Grand Final and back-to-back Super Rugby titles, as they host a home semi-final this weekend. They are $1.62 to win the Super Rugby title this season.
That semi-final is against rivals and pre-season favourites the Hurricanes.
The Canes have not been playing as well as they had before the international break, but a 32-31 win against the Chiefs on Friday night is sure to bring the team confidence.
They dominated the second stanza of the match, with two late converted tries flattering the Chiefs.
The Canes are $4 to win the title and if they can get the better of the Crusaders, then their chances will rise tremendously.
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