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Super Rugby's Ultimate Showdown

Super Rugby's Ultimate Showdown

Super Rugby's Ultimate Showdown

CRUvCHI_SRSF2017_primary
Five things from the Hurricanes Lions game
 
1) They might have had a “soft” draw, which enabled them an easier passage to the top seeding, but the Lions are a good team. They have beaten all five New Zealand sides over the past two seasons and should be commended for a style that takes a lot more from the New Zealand attacking mindset than the traditional South African.
 
2) Having said that the Hurricanes had the game under control and should have been even further in front before halftime. Dane Coles catches a pass with the line open and its 29-3. Impossible to say how much difference it would have made, but it would have at least changed the course of events before half time.
 
3) The ‘Canes have been criticised for too many speculative passes but just as bad was the number of uncontestable kicks. Prepping for Rugby Nation we counted at least 20 kicks that went straight to the Lions backfield players, who were often able to run back 20 metres before being challenged. Also, the Lions were only asked to make 66 tackles in this game and missed 22 of them. Which begs further questions as to why you wouldn’t play more with ball in hand instead of kicking it. Fatigue, maybe?
 
4) The Beauden Barrett yellow card was wrong. He was making a genuine attempt to roll away and as we showed on RN on Sunday the only reason the ball ended up between his legs was because the tackled player, Ruan Combrinck put it there. It was smart thinking by Combrinck, and with Jaco Peypers finger on the trigger, it was effectively game over.
 
5) It’s almost gone unnoticed but Ngani Laumape equalled the season record of 15 tries, which he now shares with Joe Roff and Rico Gear.  
 
Five things from the Crusaders Chiefs game.
 
1) Last week the Crusaders hogged the ball against the Highlanders. With the Chiefs opting for ball in hand to try and build pressure the Crusaders had to do a lot of tackling…making an incredible 185 to the Chiefs 66. The ‘Saders missed 22, but arguably the nine missed by the Chiefs were more damaging.
 
2) The Crusaders were much more efficient at turning chances into points. Yes, the Chiefs were a bit unlucky to miss out when the Tim Nanai-Williams try was ruled out, but it was the correct decision in the end, and other promising situations were not turned into points. In contrast the Crusaders seemed to have a policy of “don’t leave empty handed” with more points resulting from way fewer raids.
 
3) The turnout was really a bad look.
Poor semi-final crowds for past Crusaders teams could (half seriously) be put down to people saving it up for the final but not nowadays. AMI Stadium has served its purpose. It was a temporary fix and it is disturbing to know that a million dollars will be spent to keep it serviceable for the immediate future while the city leaders continue to dodge and weave around a permanent solution.
 
4) We know now how much Ryan Crotty was missed during the Lions series. Not since the days of Warwick Taylor has a red and black midfield been so well glued together. 
 
5) The end of an era for the Chiefs, with Dave Rennie, Kieran Keane, Tawera Kerr Barlow, Aaron Cruden, James Lowe, Mike Leitch and Hika Elliott all departing…oh and Stephen Donald.
That’s a lot of intellectual property and a lot of talent. Cruden showed his class on Saturday night, and while he may have lost a little pace he remains arguably the best navigator of all the 10s in New Zealand.
Rennie deserves massive credit for what he’s done in Hamilton. He is his own man, which may not have endeared him to those further up the food chain, but he always did what was best for the team he was paid to coach. Good luck to all of them.
 
And Five Things About the Final 
 
1) I said it last year about the final when the Lions did the travelling, and I’ll say it again. There should be a week off after the semi because travelling half way round the world immediately puts one team at a severe disadvantage.
 
2) On top of that, the Crusaders have come off two real slogs, and you wonder what that will have taken out of them.
 
3) Only once before has a team won a Super Rugby final outside its own country. The Crusaders did it in Canberra in 2000.
 
4) The have to deny the Lions any momentum. If the Lions forwards start getting over the advantage line and offloading, they are hard to contain. The battle of the loose trios and the head to head between Sam Whitelock and Franco Mostert will be paramount. They also need to put more heat on the erratic Elton Jantjies than the Hurricanes were able to.
 
5) It’ll be a fantastic occasion. The Lions have restored power to one of the great houses of South African rugby and surely they will draw a big crowd for this one. It’s at altitude and the Crusaders have had to make the long haul, so it’s not a level playing field and the Lions go in as favourites. It’ll take something special for the Crusaders to win.