Touchline miss sets up Chief-Crusaders replay
We're rolling out the welcome matEVAN PEGDEN
The Chiefs will host the Crusaders in a repeat of last year's Super Rugby semifinal at Waikato Stadium on Saturday night.
Their opponent was decided last night when Cheetahs first five-eighth Riaan Smit hit the post while trying to convert replacement Ryno Benjamin's try in the final minute.
If he had been successful, it would have forced the semifinal against the Brumbies into extra time.
With that the Brumbies won 15-13 and earned a trip to South Africa to play the second qualifying Bulls in one semifinal in Pretoria, leaving the Crusaders, who whipped the Reds 38-9 in Christchurch on Saturday night, to play the Chiefs.
Had the sixth seeded Cheetahs won yesterday they would have gone to Hamilton instead and the Crusaders would have played in Pretoria.
A Crusaders team hitting their best form for some time will now get the week at home to prepare before travelling to Hamilton where they will look to continue their impressive momentum against a Chiefs team fresh from a week off.
Saturday's win was the Crusaders' fourth in a row since losing 28-19 to the Chiefs in Hamilton back in May before the international break.
Among those four victories was a 43-15 revenge win at home at AMI Stadium over the Chiefs - a result that will leave the men in red and black in a confident mood heading into the semifinal.
Last year the Chiefs won their semi-final against the Crusaders 20-17 at Waikato Stadium before going on to hammer the Sharks 37-6 in the final at the same venue.
While the Chiefs have gone one better this year in qualifying No 1 from the regular season to be guaranteed home advantage for the playoffs after a qualifier (quarterfinal) bye, they have yet to turn in a complete performance in 2013.
The break from playing this week, however, has enabled them to get injured bodies mended with forwards Brodie Retallick, Ben Afeaki, Liam Messam and Matt Vant Leven all suffering knocks at the start of the week, along with first five-eighth Aaron Cruden and centre Tim Nanai-Williams.
Nanai-Williams is likely to be the only player ruled out of the playoff matches.
Tickets go on sale at midday today for the semi-final with a repeat of last year's sellout of the 25,000-capacity stadium expected.
- Waikato Times
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