Super Rugby Finals Series
Stage set for semi-final battle
June 25, 2011
Quade Cooper and the Reds resume their quest for Super Rugby glory against the Blues in Brisbane next weekend © Getty Images
Semi-final qualifier: Crusaders v Sharks at Nelson, Jun 25, 2011 Semi-final qualifier: Blues v Waratahs at Auckland, Jun 24, 2011
The battle lines for the Super Rugby semi-finals have been drawn following the conclusion of the first round of the new-look play-offs.
The Blues' 26-13 victory over the Waratahs in Auckland on Friday night and the Crusaders' 36-8 win against the Sharks in Nelson on Saturday confirmed the qualifiers and the line-up for the final four.
The Reds will tackle the Blues in the first semi-final that will be staged at the Suncorp Stadium in Brisbane on Saturday night. A victory for the home side would ensure they would also play host to the following weekend's final due to the fact that they topped the Super Rugby standings at the end of the regular season.
The second semi-final will see the Stormers go head-to-head with the Crusaders at Newlands in Cape Town where a victory for the South African side along with a defeat for the Reds would see the Super Rugby title decided at the same venue seven days later.
Should both the Reds and Stormers lose their matches then the Crusaders would gain top seeding for the season finale with the Westpac Stadium in Wellington the likely venue for a showdown with the Blues. This is due to the fact that the Crusaders' earthquake-damaged AMI Stadium base in Christchurch is still out of use and the larger Eden Park in Auckland is the Blues' regular home ground.
South African referee Jonathan Kaplan will take charge of the first semi-final while his compatriot Craig Joubert will referee the second clash.
Super Rugby Semi-Finals: (Saturday, July 2)
Reds vs Blues
Stormers vs Crusaders
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.