24 May, 14:08
The Irish Rugby Supporters Club is delighted to announce that tickets for the GUINNESS Series 2013 will go on sale on ticketmaster.ie at 10am on Thursday, May 30.
If the Brumbies repeat their controlled performance from last week's 15-12 win over the Chiefs in Hamilton they are confident of playing in their fifth final against likely competition nemesis Canterbury Crusaders. The four-time winning Crusaders have home ground advantage and settled preparation for their Saturday semi-final against Western Stormers, who are disadvantaged by having to travel from South Africa to play in Christchurch. The Brumbies and Crusaders are the form teams of the southern hemisphere provincial competition this season, but must overcome their underdog rivals to lock up another trans-Tasman showdown. ACT scored two tries in beating the Chiefs last weekend and such was their iron-fisted control that the Kiwis had to rely on penalty goals to prise a bonus point and clinch their first-ever playoff spot. Brumbies enforcer Owen Finegan says his Canberra-based team owed it to themselves to play their best rugby or risk blowing their third straight Super 12 finals campaign. The Brumbies fell to eventual champions Auckland Blues in last year's semis and lost the 2002 final to the Crusaders in Christchurch after carrying off their first Super 12 crown in 2001 against the Coastal Sharks. "We were happy to come away with a win over there, we were happy to get a bonus point and we never went for the kill," Finegan said of last week's win over the Chiefs. "Being in so many finals as a team we realise we've let ourselves down a little bit by not going all the way. There's a real feeling this year that we can go all the way." The Chiefs, who have been this year's surprise packets with their resolute play, have All Blacks scrum-half Byron Kelleher back from a thigh injury which kept him out of last week's encounter. Kelleher is hellbent to prove that Brumbies and Wallaby rival scrumhalf George Gregan does not get under his skin and unsettle him in big matches. The burly All Black, whose arrival from the Otago Higlanders has played a key role in the Chiefs' reversal of fortunes, believes he has more often been able to upset the chatty Gregan with his aggressive play than the other way around. Of the 24 Super 12 semis played since 1996, 17 have been won by the home side. The Chiefs' sole triumph from four matches in Canberra came in 1999, 16-13. Canterbury, who were off the boil in a 37-20 loss to the Wellington Hurricanes last week, will go into their playoff minus All Blacks Justin Marshall and Chris Jack. Scrum-half Marshall has not recovered from a hip muscle suffered in the 24-9 win over the Stormers in Christchurch two weeks ago, while lock Jack was concussed after a high tackle last week and has not recovered from associated headaches. Crusaders coach Robbie Deans will use rookies Jamie Nutbrown at half and Ross Filipo at lock, giving the Stormers two untried targets. The Crusaders will also be without number eight Mose Tuiali'i, who was sent off when the two teams last met for headbutting centre Marius Joubert. He was subsequently banned for three weeks, forcing him to miss the rest of the competition, with the judiciary panel finding that he had reacted to an "unacceptable comment" from a Stormers' player. Stormers are the underdogs but coach Gert Smal warns they will have more bite this time round. "I think that (loss) is just the nature of the Super 12," he said. "If you lose, then you must prepare for the next game. "This is a new game with new combinations and we are excited to be in a semi-final." Joubert and De Wet Barry, South Africa's most lethal midfield combination, were overshadowed when the teams last met with the Crusaders winning after playing for 50 minutes with 14 men. With Crusaders centre Aaron Mauger set to make a return alongside Daniel Carter, another intriguing midfield looms. The Stormers only have one draw in five trips to play the Crusaders.