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Queensland need Napa: Robinson

Trent Robinson says Dylan Napa shapes as Queensland’s answer to NSW man mountain David Klemmer in the State of Origin decider.


Napa made a bold statement about his Origin credentials with an eye-catching performance in the Sydney Roosters’ 20-10 NRL win over the Gold Coast in Gosford on Sunday.

After Maroons prop Josh McGuire was ruled out for the rest of the year with an Achilles injury, suffered in Brisbane’s win over Newcastle on Friday, the door has been left ajar for Napa to force his way into the team for Game III on July 8 at Suncorp Stadium.

While Korbin Sims and Josh Papalii will also come under consideration by coach Mal Meninga, Napa performed when the chips were down on Sunday.

His game was marked by a bust in which he made Gold Coast and Queensland front-rower Nate Myles look ordinary.

“I think he ran 50 metres, straight through me,” Myles said while endorsing the 22-year-old’s representative claims.

Canterbury prop Klemmer was a standout off the bench for NSW in Origin II and it has left the Maroons wondering how to counter his size and aggression.

Robinson said the way Napa took on Myles and went searching for a contest against one of the game’s best props spoke volumes about his competitive nature.

Napa stands at 194cm and weighs in at 115kg, Robinson said his size and strength was needed by Queensland against a big Blues pack.

“I’m a big fan of Josh McGuire. He’s a great player, a 100kg forward who does things at times that belie his weight,” Robinson said.

“But there are some big boys in that NSW team. Queensland know what they’re doing but he’s a 115kg big guy that carries well, takes them on in defence too. Let’s hope he gets in.”

Napa said while he was dreaming of an Origin call-up, he wasn’t expecting a phone call from Meninga.

He said he felt like he was ready for the Origin cauldron and was capable of doing a job if called upon.

“Obviously as an NRL player you want to get to that next level and play Origin,” Napa said.

“We’ll see what happens. I feel like I’ve done as much as I could to be selected. It’s not playing on my mind at all, I feel like I’ve done my job for the Sydney Roosters.”

Kyrgios, Tomic lead Aussie Wimbledon tilt

Anything is possible when Nick Kyrgios and Bernard Tomic launch their Wimbledon campaigns on Monday as enigmatic X-factors in a draw headlined yet again by grand slam giants Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer.


Even Kyrgios and Tomic’s closest allies don’t know what to expect after the unpredictable but mega-talented young guns endured troubled and disrupted build-ups laced with drama and controversy.

Illness and elbow issues restricted Kyrgios to just one competitive outing since the French Open, a quickfire straight-sets loss to Roland Garros winner Stan Wawrinka at Queen’s.

The 20-year-old then parted ways with his coach a week out from Wimbledon.

But his Davis Cup teammate, part-time hitting partner and 2002 All England Club champion Lleyton Hewitt has learnt not to doubt Kyrgios, regardless of his preparation, after watching the precocious talent build an incredible CV.

“He hardly won a match on the ATP Tour before midway through this year,” Hewitt said.

“But he still had a quarter-final at Wimbledon, a quarter at the Aussie (Open) and a third round at the US Open.

“So you sort of just throw the form guide out, which is a good thing to have, just to be able to switch it on.

“Whether he’ll be able to do that when he’s 28, 30, probably not. But when you’re 20, it’s great.”

Hewitt is tipping Kyrgios to see off Argentine baseliner Diego Schwartzman first up and then either Florian Mayer or Juan Monaco to comfortably reach the third round.

Kyrgios would then likely strike seventh seed Milos Raonic, the Canadian who knocked him out in last year’s quarter-finals, in a match Hewitt also believed the Australian could win.

But neither Hewitt nor fellow former world No.1 Pat Rafter can see the 26th seed winning the title – yet.

“He’s not quite a title contender yet,” Hewitt said.

Rafter can’t fault Kyrgios’s potential, but believes “at this stage he doesn’t have that desire and hunger yet”.

“He’s dealing with a lot of pressures, I would imagine, and he’s struggling with that and it’s a tough time,” he said.

“I do remember going through a little bit of what he’s going through in ’94, coming into ’95, ’96.

“But it never stopped me training. I just struggled with all the pressures of it.

“I think Nick is going through that and I really hope he can get through this time.

“And it might take him a year, might take him six months, might take him two years.

“But what you have there is one of the most rawest, natural talents out there right now and has the ability to be a top-five player – hands down – and a potential grand slam winner, no doubt about it.”

But just not now.

“Potentially, he’s can do some damage in the draw,” Rafter said.

“Just going on Nick’s results of late, he’s struggling a little bit, but Nick is always that person who can just light it up whenever it’s there.

“But that’ll catch up to him. Talent will only get you so far in the draw.”

Tomic meets German Jan-Lennard Struff in his opener and is vowing to block out his coach-father John’s escalating feud with Tennis Australia over financial support for his daughter Sara.

World No.1 and defending champion Novak Djokovic looms as Tomic’s first big test in round three.

Seven other Australian men play on Monday, including teenage ace Thanasi Kokkinakis on debut against Argentina’s 24th seed Leonardo Mayer and his 34-year-old doubles partner Hewitt in his Wimbledon swansong.

Hewitt takes on crafty Finnish left-hander Jarkko Nieminen, while fellow wildcard Matt Ebden, Marinko Matosevic and qualifiers John Millman, John-Patrick Smith and Luke Saville also feature on the opening day of the championships.

Sam Groth and James Duckworth play on Tuesday.

Wimbledon women’s penpix



Age: 33

Ranking: 1

Plays: right-handed (two-handed backhand)

Career prize money: $US69,676,428 ($A90.


07 million)

Career titles: 67

Grand slam titles: 20 (Australian Open 2003, 2005, 2007, 2009, 2010, 2015; French Open 2002, 2013, 2015; Wimbledon 2002-03, 2009-10, 2012; US Open 1999, 2002, 2008, 2012-2014)

Wimbledon win-loss record: 72-10

Best Wimbledon performances: champion 2002-03, 2009-10, 2012

The all-conquering world No.1 is desperate to end her relative run of outs on London’s hallowed lawns, having failed to reign for three years. A sixth title would earn the American a second “Serena Slam” and few are backing against it.


Age: 25

Ranking: 2

Plays: left-handed (two-handed backhand)

Career prize money: $US18,523,316 ($A23.94 million)

Career titles: 16

Grand slam titles: 2 (Wimbledon 2011, 2014)

Wimbledon win-loss record: 27-5

Best Wimbledon performances: champion 2011, 2014

The defending champion is seeded for a heavyweight final stoush with Williams after returning to a career-high ranking. Under a slight fitness cloud after withdrawing from the Eastbourne lead-up event with a virus.


Age: 28

Ranking: 4

Plays: right-handed (two-handed backhand)

Career prize money: $US35,071,334 ($A45.34 million)

Career titles: 35

Grand slam titles: 5 (Australian Open 2008; French Open 2012, 2014; Wimbledon 2004; US Open 2006)

Wimbledon win-loss record: 41-11

Best Wimbledon performance: champion 2004

Will be extra motivated after being dethroned at Roland Garros but will likely need to topple the titleholder then beat Williams for the first time since their Wimbledon final 11 years ago to land a second crown.


Age: 28

Ranking: 6

Plays: left-handed (two-handed backhand)

Career prize money: $US7,747,089 ($A10.01 million)

Career titles: 6

Grand slam titles: 0

Wimbledon win-loss record: 9-9

Best Wimbledon performance: semi-finalist 2014

Had a modest record at the All England Club until reaching the semi-finals last year in a breakout that performance that sparked her rise up the rankings to a career-best sixth. Put her early exit at Eastbourne down to a French Open final hangover.


Age: 27

Ranking: 8

Plays: left-handed (two-handed backhand)

Career prize money: $US7,991,961 ($A10.33 million)

Career titles: 2

Grand slam titles: 0

Wimbledon win-loss record: 9-7

Best Wimbledon performance: quarter-finalist 2014

The Russian is the biggest improver in women’s tennis with semi-final runs in New York and Melbourne since making the quarters at Wimbledon for the first time last year. A beneficiary of a left-handed serve, a huge advantage on grass.



Age: 20

Ranking: 21

Plays: right-handed (two-handed backhand)

Career prize money: $US2,094,689 ($A2.71 million)

Career titles: 1

Grand slam titles: 0

Wimbledon win-loss record: 4-2

Best Wimbledon performances: third round 2013, 2014

Earmarked as a future world No.1 and coached by former champion Lindsay Davenport, the big-hitting youngster confirmed her immense potential with a charge to the Australian Open semi-finals in January.



Age: 31

Ranking: 22

Plays: right-handed (two-handed backhand)

Career prize money: $US14,562,453 ($A18.82 million)

Career titles: 7

Grand slam titles: 1 (US Open 2011)

Wimbledon win-loss record: 8-12

Best Wimbledon performances: third round 2009, 2013

With just two third-round efforts in a dozen tries, the former US Open champion has never come close to living up to John Alexander’s early-career prediction that she’d one day win Wimbledon. Nevertheless back in form and still Australia’s No.1.


Age: 21

Ranking: 41

Plays: right-handed (two-handed backhand)

Career prize money: $US568,405 ($A734,753)

Career titles: 0

Grand slam titles: 0

Wimbledon win-loss record: never played

Best Wimbledon performances: never played

The fast-rising youngster proved with her run to the Eastbourne quarter-finals that her wins over former world No.1s Maria Sharapova and Ana Ivanovic were no fluke. Strained an ab at the lead-up event but insisted she’d be fine.

Gatlin cruises in heats, Felix claims 400m title

Gatlin cruised through the 200 metres preliminaries in 19.


92 seconds to move into Sunday’s semi-finals and finals and a chance to face world record holder Usain Bolt of Jamaica in both the 200 and 100 at the worlds in Beijing in August.

He has a bye for Beijing in the 100 and did not run the event in Eugene.

But talk quickly turned to that race, where the U.S. will send a team of Gatlin, Tyson Gay, Trayvon Bromell and Mike Rodgers to the world championships.

“It is going to be hard to beat those guys,” Gatlin said, knowing Bolt has not been at his best this year.

Olympic 200m champion Felix has a decision to make after running down Nastasha Hastings to win the U.S. 400 title in 50.19 seconds.

Hastings took second 50.25 and Phyllis Francis third in 50.67.

Francena McCorory, the year’s fastest in the event, finished fourth in 50.88 and will miss the team unless Felix decides to run the 200 at the world championships.

Felix has a bye to Beijing in the shorter event and after her victory on Saturday is eligible to run either the 200 or 400 there.

A 400-200 double would be nearly impossible because of the schedule.

“I’ll go down and sit with Bobby (Kersee),” Felix said of the upcoming decision. “I’m not sure what his time frame is but I’m sure we’ll probably do it quickly. Ultimately, it’s up to Bobby.”

Felix tried the double under a more favourable schedule at the 2011 world championships, finishing second in the 400m and third in the 200m.

Asked if she had unfinished business in the 400m, Felix replied: “I feel like I still haven’t reached my potential there. I feel like I could challenge myself there.

“But I still love the 200.”

Dawn Harper-Nelson, the London Olympic silver medallist, beat a high quality field in the women’s 100m hurdles, running

12.55 seconds to nip collegian Keni Harrison by a hundredth of a second.

“I’m a gamer,” Harper-Nelson said. “I love to go out there and compete. I knew these ladies were ready and I said ‘Dawn, you have to be on your A-game today in order to make that team.'”

Sharika Nelvis, who had run the year’s top time of 12.34 in Friday’s heats, claimed the final spot for Beijing in 12.59.

Former world champion Tianna Bartoletta added another season’s best in the women’s long jump, leaping 7.12 metres to outdistance Olympic champion Brittney Reese (6.97m).

David Verburg edged world champion LaShawn Merritt for the men’s 400m title. Verburg clocked 44.63 seconds with Merritt running 44.66.

In a battle of training partners, Bershawn Jackson beat Johnny Dutch for the 400m hurdles win in 48.29. Third went to Kerron Clement, like Jackson a former world champion.

The trials end on Sunday with the top three finishers in each event qualifying for the world championships.

(Editing by Andrew Both)

Jennings stars as Roosters down Titans

Michael Jennings delivered an outstanding display in his return from a one-game club-imposed ban to spearhead the Sydney Roosters’ 20-10 NRL win over Gold Coast on Sunday.


The Roosters were lucky to escape with the two points after an error-riddled second half but still did enough to jump into the top four in front of 12,569 fans at Central Coast Stadium.

Jennings scored a try before turning provider for James Maloney’s four-pointer in a crucial 11-minute period before halftime – the points the Roosters scored during that period would prove the difference.

Coach Trent Robinson did not hide his disappointment with his side’s execution – the Roosters completing just 26 of their 43 sets and making 18 handling errors.

“It (their error count) was really poor in the second half especially,” Robinson said.

“We didn’t execute well at the start of the game, especially down their end.

“I think we carried over from last week. Then it probably got worse in the second half. There were some very different performances from us today.

“Defence held us in there.”

After Anthony Don intercepted a Maloney bat-on and raced 90 metres to score, the Titans were well in the game, down 6-4 after 15 minutes.

Then Jennings, who missed the team’s last start after being arrested during a run-in with police in Parramatta, made his mark.

First he bustled through three retreating defenders to score and push his team’s lead out to eight.

Then on the stroke of halftime Maloney broke the line and threw it to Jennings, who turned it back inside for the Roosters five-eighth to score.

The Titans had their chances in the second half but were just as disjointed as the Roosters.

They suffered a blow when Ryan James was ruled out with a shoulder injury, causing a reshuffle of the side including moving James Roberts to five-eighth.

Jennings’ performance was one of the few high points for the Roosters, along with prop Dylan Napa who put his hand up for a Queensland State of Origin jumper, running for 148 metres, including a memorable line break.

Gold Coast got back within touching distance when Nene MacDonald pounced after Roger Tuivasa-Sheck bobbled a grubber.

However they failed to capitalise despite the Roosters’ indifferent performance and having plenty of opportunities in their opposition’s half.

“We got down there and had a couple of opportunities,” Titans coach Neil Henry said.

“We came up with a couple of errors early in the count when we got into an attacking position. Overall we battled away.

“In the second half we came out and I thought it was a pretty entertaining half of footy. With some good scrambling defence at times and some good contact at times and we forced a few errors by being a bit aggressive with our defensive line.

“We just needed that try to make them nervous.”

Na Yeon Choi leads Arkansas women’s golf

Na Yeon Choi felt as if she had nothing to lose staring down her second shot on the par-5 18th hole during round two of the NW Arkansas Championship at Pinnacle Country Club.


The eight-time LPGA Tour winner played without a sense of fear throughout her round on Saturday, matching her career best with an eight-under-par 63 to surge to the top of the leaderboard.

Choi reached 13 under overall (129) after sinking a 15-metre eagle putt on the 525m final hole, a shot she set up with a fearless 3-wood approach to the elevated green.

“I got the 3-wood out first, then changed it to a pitching wedge and then back to a 3-wood because there is a small gap to the right side of the green,” Choi said. “… I mean, I couldn’t hit a 3-wood if today is Sunday, but today’s Saturday, and I feel good about my swing so I just hit it.”

Choi had reason to feel comfortable at Pinnacle, where she’d never shot above par in 23 career rounds, finishing in the top 10 for the past four years.

The South Korean will enter Sunday’s final round with a two-shot lead over Mi Jung Hur and Anna Nordqvist.

Australian Minjee Lee is in a four-way tie for eighth on eight-under 134 after impressive rounds of 68 and 66.

Katherine Kirk is the next best Australian at five-under 137, ahead of Karrie Webb (138).

In addition to Hur and Nordqvist at 11 under, several players enter the final round within striking distance including defending champion Stacy Lewis at nine under.

She was also four shots off the lead entering the final round last year when she sank a seven-foot birdie putt on the final hole to earn her 11th career victory.

Lewis hasn’t won since, but she sank a 25-foot birdie putt on 17 on Saturday, and finished with another birdie on the par-5 18th for a second-round 65 after an early double bogey.

“I just stayed patient and finally hit some good shots and rolled the rock in there at the end,” Lewis said. “Those two putts on 17 and 18 were huge going into tomorrow, but it also gave the fans something to cheer about, too.”

Choi’s eight-under round was one shot off the course record of 62, set in 2008 by Angela Park and Jane Park. Also, Choi’s two-round total of 13-under par was one shot off the 36-hole record set in 2012 by Veronica Felibert.

One South Korean who won’t be around for the final round is top-ranked Inbee Park, who missed her first cut in more than a year. Park shot a one-over 72 to finish one under overall, the same score as Michelle Wie, who also dropped out.

Australians Sarah Jane Smith (142) and Sarah Kemp (149) also missed the cut

Wimbledon men’s penpix



Age: 28

Ranking: 1

Plays: right-handed (two-handed backhand)

Career prize money: $US79,387,662 ($A102.


62 million)

Career titles: 53

Grand slam titles: 8 (Australian Open 2008, 2011-2013, 2015; Wimbledon 2011, 2014; US Open 2011)

Wimbledon win-loss record: 45-8

Best Wimbledon performances: champion 2011, 2014

The world No.1 will be hoping his shattering French Open finals loss to Stan Wawrinka was merely a blip in an otherwise dominant season as he looks to defend his crown and collect a third title at the All England Club.


Age: 33

Ranking: 2

Plays: right-handed

Career prize money: $US90,936,295 ($A117.55 million)

Career titles: 86

Grand slam titles: 17 (Australian Open 2004, 2006-07, 2010; French Open 2009; Wimbledon 2003-07, 2009, 2012; US Open 2004-2008)

Wimbledon win-loss record: 73-9

Best Wimbledon performances: champion 2003-07, 2009, 2012

The seven-times champion continues to believe he can eclipse Pete Sampras’s modern-day record haul with an eighth success at SW19. The grasscourt maestro has been targeting this as his season priority after losing last year’s final in five sets.


Age: 28

Ranking: 3

Plays: right-handed (two-handed backhand)

Career prize money: $US38,186,311 ($A49.36 million)

Career titles: 34

Grand slam titles: 2 (US Open 2012; Wimbledon 2013)

Wimbledon win-loss record: 23-7

Best Wimbledon performance: champion 2013

The Scot is many experts’ title favourite after completing a superb claycourt campaign featuring just one five-set defeat in 16 matches before making a seamless transition to his preferred grass with a record-equalling fourth Queen’s Club crown.


Age: 30

Ranking: 4

Plays: right-handed

Career prize money: $US17,797,753 ($A23.01 million)

Career titles: 10

Grand slam titles: 2 (Australian Open 2014; French Open 2015)

Wimbledon win-loss record: 13-10

Best Wimbledon performance: quarter-finalist 2014

The late-blooming Swiss reached the quarter-finals for the first time in 10 attempts last year and will be armed with fresh confidence following his stunning march to the title at Roland Garros.


Age: 29

Ranking: 10

Plays: left-handed (two-handed backhand)

Career prize money: $US73,158,490 ($A94.57 million)

Career titles: 66

Grand slam titles: 14 (Australian Open 2009; French Open 2005-08, 2010-14; Wimbledon 2008, 2010; US Open 2010, 2013)

Wimbledon win-loss record: 39-8

Best Wimbledon performances: champion 2008, 2010

The former world No.1 has been seeded 10th after failing to win a claycourt title in Europe for the first time in a decade. But the Spaniard is growing in confidence after making a triumphant transition to grass in Stuttgart.



Age: 24

Ranking: 8

Plays: right-handed (two-handed backhand)

Career prize money: $US8,261,899 ($A10.68 million)

Career titles: 6

Grand slam titles: 0

Wimbledon win-loss record: 8-4

Best Wimbledon performance: semi-finalist 2014

Unusual for a top-10 star to be tagged a dark horse but that is what the power-serving Canadian is, such is the strength of the so-called Big Four and Wawrinka’s emergence as a grand slam force.



Age: 22

Ranking: 26

Plays: right-handed (two-handed backhand)

Career prize money: $US2,969,486 ($A3.84 million)

Career titles: 2

Grand slam titles: 0

Wimbledon win-loss record: 8-5

Best Wimbledon performance: quarter-finalist 2011

Embroiled in controversy on tournament eve but has been eyeing this one all year and will enjoy a seeding for the first since 2011 following his most consistent season yet. Capable of another deep run if the stars align.


Age: 20

Ranking: 29

Plays: right-handed (two-handed backhand)

Career prize money: $US1,355,908 ($A1.75 million)

Career titles: 0

Grand slam titles: 0

Wimbledon win-loss record: 4-1

Best Wimbledon performance: quarter-finalist 2014

Complained of an elbow injury after his French Open exit and then claimed to be feeling mentally spent following his first-round exit at Queen’s but showed he’s capable of anything with his win over Nadal last year and then another grand slam quarter-final run in Melbourne.

Wallabies’ World Cup hopes exposed by Super Rugby routs

Given the thrashings handed out to the ACT Brumbies and New South Wales Waratahs, Cheika might prefer to have an extra year.


Any doubts about the scale of Australia’s task in England were torpedoed on Saturday as the All Blacks-laden Hurricanes hammered the Brumbies before Cheika’s Waratahs wilted against the Highlanders.

Cheika’s last match in charge of the Sydney team ended with a stinging 35-17 loss on home soil, as the Highlanders finally killed off a title defence that never appeared on solid ground.

In the Hurricanes game in Wellington, the final 29-9 score flattered a hard-travelling Brumbies side who were overwhelmed by their opponents’ blitzkrieg offence, while one-dimensional in their own rare forays in attack.

Though the all-New Zealand final will disrupt the All Blacks’ preparations for their first World Cup warmup match against Samoa next month, Cheika is unlikely to take any comfort.

The gap between New Zealand and Australia’s finest has rarely appeared greater, with the capped Wallabies in both semi-finals largely overshadowed by their All Blacks opponents.

Though his Waratahs’ tenure ended in disappointment, Cheika, 48, may feel a measure of relief.

He no longer has to keep tabs on the progress of Wallabies’ hopefuls in other Super Rugby teams while also plotting against them on the playing field.

Wearing two coaching hats has undoubtedly been a strain.

However, according to long-serving Australia centre and Waratahs stalwart Adam Ashley-Cooper, the sixth-ranked Wallabies are better prepared due to Cheika’s juggling act.

Former Wallabies coaches would wait until the Super Rugby season was wrapped up before getting the players together, but Cheika had been in regular touch with prospective squad members throughout to ensure his plans were understood, Ashley-Cooper said.

“We have been doing a lot of work throughout the year,” the 31-year-old told local media after the semi-final loss.

“Something we haven’t been doing over the last decade is connecting as a Wallabies group during Super Rugby.

“We are mentally prepared. Once we get all together as a group we’ll be ready to go.

“You can thank ‘Cheik’ for that. He’s not leaving anything to chance. The work we’ve done as leaders, decision makers, and certain members of the team, Cheik’s got together with all the other provinces, there is a bond.”

(Writing by Ian Ransom; Editing by Peter Rutherford)

Dangerfield predicted to go

Two South Australian AFL giants believe this will be Patrick Dangerfield’s last season in an Adelaide guernsey.


Former Crows coach and 200-gamer Brenton Sanderson and cross-town rival Kane Cornes believe the likelihood of the 25-year-old staying with the Crows is decreasing with each passing day.

The two-time All Australian midfielder is the biggest free agency target of the off-season and has been constantly linked with Geelong, near his hometown of Moggs Creek.

Sanderson told AFL Game Day he believed the club would struggle to retain Dangerfield.

“Every week that we go on, it looks less and less likely that he’s going to stay,” he said.

The former Crows boss coached Dangerfield for three seasons, with a reported player revolt behind his axing at the end of last season.

But Sanderson, who played the majority of his career with the Cats, showed no ill-feeling by backing Dangerfield’s form in 2015.

“He’s having a fantastic season and winning plenty of the footy,” he said.

“It won’t be affecting him … Paddy’s got the sort of personality that he’ll be able to park that, particularly on match day.”

Cornes, a premiership winner with Adelaide’s arch-rivals Port Adelaide, went further and predicted the manner of his departure.

“I thought he was going to stay two weeks ago but I’ve changed,” he told the Sunday Footy Show.

“I think Adelaide will match the offer but he’ll end up at Geelong.

“They’ll trade … (Steven) Motlop and a first round pick.”

Cornes’ former Power teammate Jay Schulz is another free agent at season’s end.

Schulz has already switched clubs once in his career, moving from Richmond, and Cornes urged him to sign a new deal to improve his form.

“It’s affecting Schulzy, his form in the last month hasn’t been great,” he said.

Cornes said Schultz was now 30 and unlikely to make another club switch and would sign on.

Aussies swept away in Super Rugby semis

Hopes of an all-Australian Super Rugby final could not have been more emphatically dashed.


Outscored nine tries to one by their trans-Tasman rivals, and beaten 64-26 on aggregate, the Brumbies and NSW Waratahs were put to the sword in contrasting ways on Saturday night by the Hurricanes and Highlanders respectively.

The Brumbies were simply outclassed 29-9 in Wellington, while the Waratahs fell 35-17 to a tactically brilliant performance from the Jamie Joseph-coached Highlanders in Sydney.

The efforts from the Kiwi sides have set up an all-New Zealand final in Wellington on Saturday between the table-topping Hurricanes and the Otago-based Highlanders, with both sides chasing a maiden Super Rugby title.

Stephen Larkham’s Brumbies were chasing shadows early in their contest, but somehow managed to get through the opening quarter of the match without conceding a point.

They finally cracked when powerhouse winger Julian Savea barged over for the first of the Hurricanes’ four tries before they had another soon after when halfback TJ Perenara finished a break from winger Nehe Milner-Skudder.

Ardie Savea scored early in the second half before a late try to replacement winger Matt Proctor.

The scoreline didn’t do justice to a dominant performance from the Hurricanes who booked their first home final.

Larkham paid tribute to the Hurricanes and admitted his side could not handle them.

“They seem to have got their whole game right this year, compared to previous years where they probably didn’t have as much control,” Larkham said.

“Like we’ve seen all season, they’re dangerous when they get that turnover ball and we couldn’t contain them.”

Hurricanes coach Chris Boyd moved quickly to allay fears over injured pair Milner-Skudder (hamstring) and Ardie Savea (knee), saying both would be fine to play in the final after being replaced early.

Boyd was delighted with his side, but admitted they squandered plenty of opportunities.

“The tempo and just the sheer weight of possession and territory probably counted in the end,” he said.

“We left some points out there but it wasn’t terminal.

“If you play a high risk-and-reward sort of game, then you’ve got to expect you’ll make some mistakes.”

The Waratahs, who had 13 internationals in their starting team compared to the Highlanders’ three, couldn’t find their rhythm as the Kiwi side produced a mixed bag of kicks designed to turn around and tire the big NSW side – it worked a treat.

The Highlanders stole most of the Waratahs’ lineout ball and controlled the tempo of the game for the best part in the five-tries-to-one victory.

“I just think we needed to go up another level,” said Waratahs captain Dave Dennis.

“When we had opportunities, our lineout let us down. We just turned over too much ball on the minimal opportunities we had.”