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Crusaders vs Hurricanes
Super Rugby, 28 July, 2018
|Fulltime - Crusaders 30, Hurricanes 12|
|Referee: Jaco Peyper|
|Touch judges: Michael Fraser & Ben O'Keeffe|
|TMO: Shane McDermot|
The Crusaders are through to another Super Rugby grand final and will enter as strong favourites after an 18-point win over the Hurricanes on Saturday.
The Crusaders and Hurricanes go head to head in an all-New Zealand semi-final in Christchurch. Join The Roar for live scores and a blog of the match, starting from 5:35pm (AEST).
It would be too easy to assume the Crusaders have got this one all wrapped up. They have been the best side in the competition since their last loss of the season back in mid-March, and they have top class talent in almost every shirt.
Add to that an ability to strike through punishing counter attacks or grind teams down over double digit phases of possession, as well as the meanest defence in the competition, and it’s easy to see why the Crusaders are clear favourites to win at home.
As if they needed any more confidence, the team welcomes Joe Moody back into the starting line up. This is the only change for the home side who will have been working hard to make sure they don’t get distracted by the chance to win back to back championships and pick up their eighth Super Rugby title.
The Hurricanes too are bringing stability in selection into this do or die match, naming an unchanged starting fifteen after their win against the Chiefs in the quarter finals.
The men from Wellington were having a fantastic season before the June Internationals, but stumbled through the final few weeks of the regular season with some uncharacteristic poor form. Their win against the Chiefs, however, showed a level of control that had been missing for a bit and they will be in a good mindset for this semi final.
There are some exciting sub plots to this game beyond who makes the grand final. Seeing what happens when Ryan Crotty and Ngani Laumape go head to head will be fantastic.
Both are in great form and have torn other sides to pieces in recent weeks. This battle in midfield could be crucial as both players are key to helping their sides turn possession into genuine attacking opportunities.
The clash between the two No. 10s will be enthralling. While Beauden Barrett has been the best fly half in New Zealand and the world for a couple of years, his form this season hasn’t quite been as dominant as many expected.
Meanwhile the chasing pack of No. 10s have been catching up, with Richie Mo’unga arguably leading the charge. His performances in key games has been impressive and there’s been talk that, in high pressure moments, Mo’unga is doing a better job of delivering for his team than Barrett.
If the ‘Canes are going to win this one it’s true that their attacking stars are going to need to be on fire, however, even more important is that their forwards give TJ Perenara and Barrett the space and quick ball to unleash their backs. This is where the game will be won and lost and the Canes pack are going to have to deliver the performance of their lives.
This should be a fantastic game of rugby and in many ways it should be the final. Either side could win this but given the relentless form of the Crusaders and the fact that they are at fortress Christchurch, it’s hard to look past the men in red and black.
Crusaders by 10 points
Join The Roar for live scores and a blog of the match, starting from 5:35pm (AEST).