Super -- Not So Super -- Rugby: Biggest referee blunder of the season?

After perhaps one of the best weekends of Super Rugby semifinals, we now have just two sides left to battle it out for Super Rugby Pacific's top prize. But before we can move ahead, we must first look back on what was a sensational weekend, and a controversial non-call that marred the final moments of a truly memorable match.

After battling back hard in the second half against the Blues, the Brumbies will rightly feel hard done by after referee Ben O'Keeffe failed to blow a penalty in the final moments that would have given the Aussies their strongest chance of snatching victory in Auckland.

Meanwhile, in Christchurch the Crusaders did what the Crusaders do best, putting on a defensive masterclass to deny the Chiefs and enter the Super Rugby record books.

Read on as we review some of the Super -- And Not So Super -- Rugby action from the semifinals.


Beauden Barrett, Richie Mo'unga tee-up mouthwatering clash

We already know just how impressive Beauden Barrett and Richie Mo'unga can be, serving up dazzling performances on the regular, but their displays on Saturday and Friday night respectively demonstrated the class above these players remain to be.

In dreary conditions in Christchurch, Mo'unga only needed a few moments with the ball in hand to make his impact on the match. Like usual his accuracy with the boot gave his team a strong buffer through the first half, but it was his act of sorcery in the 34th minute that had mouths dropping and tongues wagging.

Moments after Crusaders backrower Pablo Matera was shown red, and with not much going on against a staunch Chiefs defence 30-metres from the line, with a simple show-and-go and a swift-footed change of direction, Mo'unga slipped through what looked like the narrowest gap to charge several metres downfield before he sent off a magical no-look flick pass to George Bower.

His involvement wouldn't end there though, quickly returning to his feet, realigning himself in the backline to float a beautiful long pass in atrocious conditions to Cullen Grace to dot down the final points of the match just before the halftime break.

His defensive read was phenomenal and just like that he had his team on the front foot again.

Not to be outdone, Barrett would remind everyone of his caliber in wet conditions in Auckland as he helped his side sneak home a one-point victory over the Brumbies.

Easily one of the best on field, Barrett's kicking game was on song, constantly putting his side on the front foot and keeping the Brumbies pinned back, while his ability to cut back inside the rushing defence saw him beat eight defenders in all throughout the match.

On several occasions his mastery was on full display. Using all his rugby smarts, Barrett never over-played his hand, he sent beautiful flat passes to put his teammates through gaps while on other occasions he used quick feet to bounce through several holes of his own.

The Blues' 33rd minute try to Mark Telea started off the back of a slick Barrett long ball, before he was involved again several phases later as he brushed off two defenders before sending a back of the hand offload to Telea for the try.

He would find himself in the action again and again through the match and was the player who orchestrated everything for the Blues in the first half, and came within inches of his own try in the second off the back of a beautiful inside line that saw him cut through the defence. In the end he'd finish the match with a massive 106 metres run as he made the most of every touch of the ball.

It sets up an absolutely mouth-watering clash next week and will no doubt have big implications in who'll take on the All Blacks No.10 jersey in a few weeks' time.

Crusaders are going to crusade

There's something special about Crusaders rugby. Whether that be their amazing attacking flair out wide, or the absolute muscle they have up front. On Friday it was their impenetrable defence that stole the show.

Surely only the Crusaders could be parked on their own tryline for five minutes, conceding penalty after penalty and lose a player to the sinbin only to turn it all around within a split second and score a try at the other end.

Surely only the Crusaders could make a Super Rugby record 222 tackles in a match and come away 20-7 victors in howling wind and rain, despite playing a man down for 30 minutes.

No doubt the spectacular victory will only add to the mystique that is the Crusaders brand after their stonewall defence earned them entry into their 16th Super Rugby Grand Final, their sixth in a row, and extended their home playoff record to 27 wins.

With just 29 percent of possession in the first half, the Crusaders made the most of every touch of the ball -- especially Richie Mo'unga as mentioned above -- with Cullen Grace dotting it done twice and Mo'unga adding 10 points of his own.

Adding to the incredible defensive effort is the fact four Crusaders players made over 20 tackles each, with just over 20 missed tackles across the whole team.

While Chiefs captain Brad Weber said his team felt like they lost the game rather than they were beaten, that simply ignores the amazing defensive showcase the Crusaders displayed. The Chiefs had more than enough opportunities to give themselves a chance in the match, instead, sound defence had them scrambling and flustered, as they threw wild, wobbly passes in the wind and failed to make the right decisions on several occasions.

Perhaps if they'd chosen to take the points after seven straight penalties within the Crusaders 22 the game would have ended differently. But in a second half where they held much of the possession and the territory, they had no answer against a red and black brickwall and were constantly repelled.

The fact the Crusaders conceded 13 penalties, many of which were within their own 22, lost a player to the sinbin twice -- first a yellow, second a red -- conceded 12 turnovers and chanced their hand in abysmal conditions to earn their place in a Super Rugby final is what Crusaders rugby is all about and what makes next week's match so very, very enticing.


The biggest non-call of the season?

As the seconds ticked down and the Blues held just a one-point lead, Brumbies replacement Luke Reimer looked like he'd won his team a match-winning penalty.

Almost directly in front of the posts, Reimer pounced on a tackled Luke Romano, placed both his hands on the ball and refused to be budged by the Blues' ruck. His teammates threw their hands in the air demanding a penalty for holding on, while referee Ben O'Keeffe stood just a metre away refusing to put the whistle to his mouth.

Reimer would eventually be dislodged as the Brumbies looked to counter over the top, before the Blues lock can be seen pulling the ball back from the Brumbies side and into himself before losing the ball again.

Both moments warranted penalties, but instead the Brumbies were forced to play on with scrappy ball and no advantage as they desperately fought for the win. It would eventually lead to a Noah Lolesio drop-goal attempt that would be charged-down by Ofa Tuungafasi.

It was heartbreak for the Brumbies and their fans, jubilation for the Blues, and it left Brumbies coach Dan McKellar seeing red, and rightly so.

"What did you see in the back end there?" McKellar asked of reporters following the match. "There were a couple of decisions there that will be interesting to review. Luke Reimer appeared to be well and truly on the ball directly in front of the posts.

"There were a couple of calls there, when you're playing at Eden Park, and an Australian team hasn't won here forever and a day, you need a bit of luck, and we just didn't get that tonight. There was tip tackle, there was a head on head contact, I saw Luke Reimer on the ball surviving cleanout directly in front of the posts.

"It's something to review, but our season is done and dusted now and all the best to the Blues next week against the Crusaders."

While no one expects referees to be perfect there is an expectation that in the final moments of matches that hold so much significance such blatant calls can't be missed.

Several O'Keeffe decisions will surely come under review in the following days, not just the final moments, including his decision not to award the Blues a five metre scrum after Nic White took the ball in-goal following a Barrett up-and-under kick, or giving the Brumbies a goal-line dropout after Barrett knocked the ball on in the in-goal.

But already McKellar was questioning the framework of the two yellow cards handed out to Blues hooker Kurt Eklund and flanker Adrian Choat, which could have easily been another colour.

Eklund was binned after he tip-tackled Andy Muirhead in the 53rd minute, while Choat escaped with a yellow after his head clash with Tom Wright in the 75th minute. In any other match throughout the season these cards could have just as easily been red and what a different story this match would have been.

"I've got 23 players and 15 staff in there ... what is the game doing around cards? I've got [the suspended] Len Ikitau sitting in the grandstand for an accident last week. He hasn't been able to play, possibly won't play against England in the first test match, and we've got a guy tipped on his head, got a head on head contact ... one's a yellow, one's a red.

"I'm not complaining just about tonight, but as a game ... last night as well with the Crusaders and Chiefs. What direction are we going here because players don't know what's yellow, what's red? I don't know what it is, so how is Joe Public going to have any idea."

The disappointment and heartache can't take away from the incredible show the Brumbies put on to take the game to the final moments. Entering the halftime break looking rattled after they conceded 20 straight points to the Blues, the Aussie team came out firing in the second with their bench making all the difference with a Lachlan Lonergan double giving them every chance to snatch a victory.

Regardless of the final outcome and the disappointment, the Brumbies return to Australia with their heads high knowing they put it all on the line to come within a whisker of winning a Super Rugby semifinal in New Zealand.