We have another New Zealand derby this weekend in the semi-finals fo this years Super Rugby but this one is going to be a cracker.
The Crusaders will host the Hurricanes who ended clear second in the New Zealand conference and although they had to work hard for the win last week against the Bulls, they will not be a pushover.
On the field Saturday we will have All Black stars allover and with so many players gunning for a World Cup spot we can be assured it will be gloves off and going full tilt for 80 odd minutes.
To come to Christchurch and beat the Crusaders you need to dominate the game. The Chiefs showed us a few weeks ago in Fiji just how you suppose to do that.
If you loose one battle in the game the Crusaders will punish you so from the set pieces to the small battles on the ground, you need to be at your best.
The Hurricanes has a team that can disrupt the Crusaders game but it all start at scrum time when you play the champions. If you let them dominate at the scrums you have already lost the game.
Defence is the other aspect that is so difficult to get right against the Champions. They have all the skills to get pass the best defence in the world in my mind.
Coach Robertson have named an unchanged side to face the Hurricanes after they beat the Highlanders 38-14 last week.
Robertson has also shown respect to the Hurricanes side “We’ve really enjoyed this week, the group came in excited to have earned another opportunity to play at home, and we’ve prepared accordingly for this quality Hurricanes side. They’re well-coached, with genuine attacking threats across the park, so we know there is a massive challenge ahead of us this weekend.”
For the Hurricanes, TJ Perenara will become the most capped player for the franchise on Saturday.
He will run out for his 127th appearance this weekend as he surpass Hurricanes greats like Ma’a Nonu and Conrad Smith. In my eyes the best number 9 this year in New Zealand started his Super Rugby journey eight season ago.
He and Barrett will also combine for the 101st time for the team which is also something special.
We only see Rayasi replacing Wes Goosen who picked up an injury against the Bulls.
We always take about the mini-battles between players gunning for national honours and in this match their are plenty starting with Beauden Barrett and Richie Mo’unga in the number ten jumper.
Mo’unga has not set a foot wrong this season on the rugby field were as Barrett had a quite season at his own high standards, but Mo’unga have been playing behind one of the best packs in the competition all year.
Mo’unga is quality and it showed that when he was not there the Crusaders were not at their best.
Everyone knows what the Hurricanes and New Zealand have in Barrett and all we can do is sit back and enjoy this battle on Saturday.
The other huge battle for me will be in the midfield where we have Crotty and Goodhue up against Laumape and Peter Umaga-Jensen.
This is most properly the biggest headache for All Black coach Hansen when he has to pick his midfield players for the World Cup.
The quality of midfield players in New Zealand means that some great player will be left at home come the World Cup.
The last interesting battle for me will be at hooker where you have Coles and Taylor going up against each other.
With Marx they are the best hookers for me in the world at the moment and it will be a massive battle between the two on Saturday.
This is one of those games that you can just sit back and enjoy, specially because it has no impact on any of our South African teams anymore.
Some Interesting Facts (OPTA)
- The Crusaders have won their last four Super Rugby games on the bounce against the Hurricanes; the only previous time either team managed to win more games in succession in this fixture was a seven-game stretch for the Crusaders from 2005 to 2008.
- This will be the sixth finals meeting between the Crusaders and Hurricanes in Super Rugby, the Crusaders have won each of the previous five by an average margin of 20 points per game.
- The Crusaders have won their last seven post-season games in succession in Super Rugby; only once in the competition’s history has any team won more (9 – Crusaders from 1998 to 2003).
- The Crusaders are undefeated in their last 29 Super Rugby games on home turf (W28, D1); their last defeat in such a fixture came in Round 17, 2016 against the Hurricanes.
- The Hurricanes have won only one of their nine previous finals games away from home in Super Rugby, with five of their eight defeats in that span coming at the hands of the Crusaders.
- The Hurricanes have won their last four New Zealand derbies in Super Rugby despite leading at half-time only twice in that time.
- The Crusaders have scored more points (33), made more carries (126), gained more metres (506), and made more clean breaks (15) per game than any other team in Super Rugby 2019.
- The Hurricanes have conceded just five tries within the final quarter of games this Super Rugby season, fewer than any other team in the competition.
- Sevu Reece (Crusaders) has made 36 clean breaks in Super Rugby 2019, eight more than any other player in the competition and 14 more than Hurricanes’ best Jordie Barrett (22).
- The Hurricane’s Ardie Savea has won 28 turnovers this Super Rugby campaign, five more than any other player in the competition and 11 more than Crusaders’ best Matt Todd (17).
Prediction: How much do I want the Hurricanes to win? Well does not matter because Crusaders will take this by 10 at the end.
Crusaders: 15 David Havili, 14 Sevu Reece, 13 Jack Goodhue, 12 Ryan Crotty, 11 George Bridge, 10 Richie Mo’unga, 9 Bryn Hall, 8 Kieran Read, 7 Matt Todd, 6 Whetukamokamo Douglas, 5 Samuel Whitelock (c), 4 Scott Barrett, 3 Owen Franks, 2 Codie Taylor, 1 Joe Moody.
Replacements: 16 Andrew Makalio, 17 Tim Perry, 18 Michael Alaalatoa, 19 Luke Romano, 20 Jordan Taufua, 21 Mitchell Drummond, 22 Mitchell Hunt, 23 Braydon Ennor.
Hurricanes: 15 Jordie Barrett, 14 Salesi Rayasi, 13 Peter Umaga-Jensen, 12 Ngani Laumape, 11 Ben Lam, 10 Beauden Barrett, 9 TJ Perenara, 8 Gareth Evans, 7 Ardie Savea, 6 Reed Prinsep, 5 Isaia Walker-Leawere, 4 James Blackwell,3 Jeff To’omaga-Allen, 2 Dane Coles (c), 1 Toby Smith.
Replacements: 16 Asafo Aumua, 17 Xavier Numia, 18 Ben May, 19 Kane Le’aupepe, 20 Vaea Fifita, 21 Richard Judd, 22 James Marshall, 23 Jonah Lowe.