Pack down with tips for two mouth-watering Super Rugby semi-finals, with the Brumbies travelling to take on the Jaguares before the Crusaders and Hurricanes lock horns in a monster Kiwi derby.
History: Played 3: Jaguares 2 V Brumbies 1
Last meeting: Round 11, 2019: Jaguares 20 d Brumbies 15 at Estadio Jose Amalfitani
Final Thoughts: The Jaguares are gunning for a piece of Super Rugby history, while the Brumbies are looking to become the first Australian team to qualify for a final since 2014.
Despite playing in just their second playoffs match, the Jaguares showed impressive grit and poise to subdue the Chiefs 21-16 in last weekend’s quarter-final. It was the Argentine outfit’s 10th win from their last 11 games and their fifth straight at home.
The Brumbies were emphatic 38-13 winners over the Sharks at home in the quarters. After a shocking start to 2019, they have pieced together a remarkable seven-match winning streak. The Brumbies are 3-5 on the road this season.
Veteran Pete Samu’s absence is a blow to a back-row already missing David Pocock.
The teams have squared off three times previously. The Brumbies carved out a 39-15 win in Buenos Aries in 2017, but the Jaguares responded with a 25-20 victory in Canberra last year. The Jaguares grinded out a 20-15 home win in April after a try-less second half.
The Brumbies are one of the few sides in the competition capable of matching the Jaguares at the set-piece. They have also discovered some uncustomary attacking flair, scoring 35 points or more in their last four games. The tight-knit team spirit the Brumbies have crafted over the past two months is hard to resist and a semi-final upset is within their grasp against a Jaguares side unfamiliar with the pressure of finals footy.
17:35 (AEST), Sat 29th Jun @ Christchurch Stadium, Christchurch
History: Played 37: Crusaders 22 V Hurricanes 12 (3 Draws)
Last meeting: Round 7, 2019: Crusaders 32 d Hurricanes 8 at Westpac Stadium
Final Thoughts: Here we go again! Despite finishing with the second-best record in Super Rugby for the second year in a row, the controversial conference format again sees the Hurricanes pitched into an away semi-final against the top-ranked Crusaders. But the star-studded ’Canes are arguably the only team capable of knocking the dominant ’Saders’ bid for a third straight title off course.
The Hurricanes won eight of their last nine regular-season games, before outlasting the Bulls 35-28 in last week’s home quarter-final. A complete 80-minute performance will be their priority on Saturday after letting a big lead slip against the Bulls.
The Crusaders are certainly a notch below their devastating mid-season form. They drew two and lost one of their last seven regular-season games, before powering away to a 38-14 quarter-final win over the Highlanders. But the champs were aided by a yellow card with the match evenly poised early in the second half; they need to be better at converting their opportunities.
Richie Mo’unga was devastating with 21 points, including two tries. His No.10 battle with Beauden Barrett is massive – in the context of this semi, and the make-up of the All Blacks’ best World Cup line-up.
The Crusaders have won six in a row at home against the Hurricanes, including a comprehensive 30-12 semi-final victory last season. The Crusaders also won both games in the 2019 regular season handsomely: 38-22 in Christchurch and 32-8 in Wellington.
The Hurricanes’ went undefeated in their other eight road games this year. Meanwhile, the Crusaders are unbeaten in their last 29 games at home. The Crusaders should get the job done yet again. But the line is very generous in the Hurricanes’ favour and they look better value against the start.