With Hurricanes wing Wes Goosen, Crusaders outside back Will Jordan, Wallabies veteran Kurtley Beale, All Blacks star Aaron Smith and Chiefs duo Alex Nankivell and Shaun Stevenson booking their spots in the quarter-finals of the competition earlier in the week, the final two places in the final went on the line in the last day of action.
First up was All Blacks pair Ioane and Laumape, with the former dishing out a 6-0 thrashing to the barnstorming Hurricanes midfielder.
Equipped with the star power of Juventus, the Highlanders playmaker raced out to an early lead when some precise passing led to a Cristiano Ronaldo goal in the ninth minute.
Despite Ioane’s protests that he was a novice of the game, the one-cap international doubled his lead just four minutes later when tucked away his second goal virtually unopposed.
A third goal came as the clock approached the half an hour mark when Paulo Dybala breached Laumape’s flailing defensive line, which again fell victim to Ioane’s attacking prowess just moments later as Miralem Pjanic netted one in from close range.
Leaving the sheds with a comfortable four-goal buffer, it took just over 20 minutes for Ioane to add to his lead when some indecisive play by Laumape inside his own penalty area allowed Dybala to cash in for a brace of goals.
The sixth and final nail in the coffin came in the 81st minute when Gonzalo Higuain secured Ioane’s ticket to the quarter-finals in emphatic fashion with a well-taken goal from right out in front.
In the day’s other fixture, Wallabies loose forward Samu left it late to defeat Crusaders halfback Hall in a seven-goal thriller.
With both players opting for Juventus, it was the Brumbies star who took the early advantage thanks to a powerful finish from Dybala inside the opening 10 minutes.
Samu inflicted further damage on his former Crusaders teammate about 10 minutes later when Adrien Rabiot converted in front of an open goal after the ball was parried to his feet by the opposition goalkeeper.
A lovely finesse shot curled into the top-right corner by Ronaldo extended Samu’s lead just moments later, leaving Hall staring down the barrel of defeat with not even half an hour of action played.
The Maori All Black pulled out a Ronaldo stunner of his own in the final 10 minutes of the half, though, with the Portuguese skipper firing home a well-placed shot from the edge of the box.
Samu still led 3-2 at the break, but that slender advantage was nullified near the hour mark when Hall did the unthinkable and drew level through Higuain, who rounded out another wonderfull counter-attack.
The three-time Super Rugby champion’s fightback was reduced to tatters, however, when Samu pierced his opponent’s defence to let Ronaldo cannon home another goal and cement his place in the final eight.
The second week of action is set to continue next week when the quarter-finalists all go head-to-head.
RugbyPass FIFA Pros Southern Hemisphere Quarter-Finalists
Wes Goosen (Hurricanes)
Will Jordan (Crusaders)
Kurtley Beale (Waratahs)
Shaun Stevenson (Chiefs)
Aaron Smith (Highlanders)
Alex Nankivell (Chiefs)
Josh Ioane (Highlanders)
Pete Samu (Brumbies)
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