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Super Rugby semi-finals: All eyes on the (sur)prize

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Expert
26th June, 2019
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The quarter-finals went with the seeds, and that can only mean one thing this weekend for the semis.

There just has to be a surprise result!

And whatever the results, it’s genuinely great that we’ve got the best four teams for the season in action, and with all four building a decent case why they will be good enough to lift the spaceship cup next weekend in one of three cities.

It’s not difficult to find fault with Super Rugby these days; we all know that. But the semi-finals and whoever meets in next weekend’s Final will all be on point. I’m really looking forward to both games.

Something new this week: we’re throwing up our first try-scorer suggestions for both semis, and you’re free to ignore or embrace them accordingly. Gamble responsibly.

Are they worth points? Well, I haven’t decided yet; that might depend on who gets them right.

And who knows? Getting both try-scorers right could be worth as many as… 11 points!

QUARTER-FINALS: Nobes, Digger, Brett 4; Geoff, The Crowd 3; Harry 2.

OVERALL: Digger 79, Nobes 78, The Crowd 77, Harry 71, Geoff and Brett 69.

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PERFECT ROUNDS: There were plenty of us, so there would’ve been plenty of you lot getting all four QF winner as well.

Might be easier to list those who didn’t: Geoff, Harry, The Crowd, etc…

Digger
TIPS: JAGUARES, HURRICANES

Here we are with the last four and after so many games and rounds I still really have no clue.

To Buenos Aires we start and I just cannot make up my mind. The Brumbies certainly look the goods, form wise probably the most cohesive looking side of the four and seemingly building nicely.

Their set piece, particularly the scrum looks a decided advantage over their hosts and they look very hungry as a group.

But in the end, I have decided to settle on the home side for this one. I believe they have the game to disrupt anybody in this competition. Their international contingent, led by the outstanding Pablo Matera, have that ‘vibe’ about them, and with playing at home I cannot tip against them.

So the Jaguares to progress to their first ever final for me.

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Pablo Matera

Pablo Matera of the Jaguares (Photo by Steve Haag/Gallo Images/Getty Images)

The Brumbies will start hot though and I am picking a maul will favour another try to the chap who surely must be the Wallaby starter in the near future, Folau Fainga’a.

To the second semi-final and a game most picked would be the case at the start of this season and it really is difficult to see anything other than a Crusaders victory and another chance at not just another crown but a second three peat to add to their storied history.

The strength of their pack combined with their incisive backline, composure and clinical execution should prove too much in the end and there is little chance of an upset in their safe haven in Christchurch.

Really? To hell with all that clap trap, Canes by plenty.

As for a first try scorer I will nominate a Barrett. That should be allowed? No, well Jordie then, from a Beauden cross kick.

SURE THING: I will be heading to Buenos Aires next weekend to admire Glen Jackson’s new sculpture in the middle of town with Harry Jones, who will serenade every second person with an ode extolling the virtues of the South African conference to Nobes annoyance.

Nobes
TIPS: JAGUARES, CRUSADERS.

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A tremendous rugby weekend awaits us with two semi-finals with the four teams that played best this season.

First the Brumbies visit the Jaguares in Buenos Aires. Both teams practice a very similar rugby and the result of the match in regular phase should not be deceiving. In that occasion in the second half there were only three points scored what speaks that these two teams defend very well.

Also, the scrum half of the Brumbies was not the same. I think Joe Powell is in a great moment and with Christian Lealiifano they are very good drivers that when they see the team in trouble they start playing with Tevita Kuridrani to put the ball forward.

There is an advantage for the Australians in the scrum and the fact that they already know what to be in these situations.

On the other hand, Jaguares have a superior mental strength, one more day of rest and do not have to endure the 30 hours of travel plus the 13 of jet lag. Player number 24 (fans) will play an important role in this game and I think the Jaguares can take it away. First try for Jaguares in the hands of Emiliano Boffelli.

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Crusaders should win the derby against the Hurricanes as long as they do not enter a lapse of attention where the Barrett brothers, Ngani Laumape, Ardie Savea and friends can put the game too far out of reach for a comeback.

Both teams are stacked with extraordinary players that in these instances can define a match and leave you out of the final.

Sevu Reece

Sevu Reece of the Crusaders (Hagen Hopkins/Getty Images)

It will be great to see BB and Richie Mo’unga face to face and I wonder how much talking to the referee will be done by TJ Perenara? First try for Canes to Ben Lam.

SURE THING: Crowd will be louder than ever in Buenos Aires.

Brett
TIPS: BRUMBIES, HURRICANES

There’s no room for tipping with the head anymore. It’s all about sentiment now and what needs to happen this weekend.

The Brumbies were magnificent last weekend, with probably as complete a first forty minutes as I can remember from this playing group. It was outstanding. But then the Jaguares turned in a defensive effort in the last twenty minutes against the Chiefs that Championships are built on. But they obviously can’t both win.

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And I’m tipping the Brumbies, but you’re all expecting that anyway.

Allan Alaalatoa of the Brumbies (AAP Image/Rohan Thomson)

But I’m tipping them because they have no fear of travel. I’m tipping them because they might be the most adaptable team in the comp in 2019. And I’m tipping them because in their set piece, they possess the one element of the game that can unseat the Jaguares, and more importantly, can both silence and win the respect of what will be an incredible crowd at the Amalfitani.

And then once the Brumbies win, the other tip becomes obvious: ‘Canes by plenty, and therefore, a Canberra Stadium Final!

SURE THING: I may or may not have already started working on a business case that involves a trip to Christchurch.

Geoff
TIPS: BRUMBIES, CRUSADERS

I’ve been tossing and turning about the first semi all week, and am still mounting winning cases for first the Brumbies and then the Jaguares.

We all know the reasons why. The Brumbies scrum and line out maul will count for plenty in a final, but there’s a sense of destiny – and no little skill factor – about the home side.

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Initially I was keen to tip the Jaguares, just to be different to Brett, who I reckon has to stay Canberra loyal, but I keep coming back to the set piece strength and composed manner in which the Brumbies have been playing.

First try scorer? Well you just have to play the odds and opt for Folau Fainga’a don’t you?

Will it be all pain for the ‘Canes? Or all… it’s times like these you discover that there aren’t many words that rhyme with Crusaders.

Maybe faders, but that’s far from the truth, this team is set on marching into what feels like their 37th Super Rugby final, and as willing and combative as the Canes will surely be, there won’t be any stopping them.

First try to sneaky Sevu Reece, slithering over in the corner.

SURE THING: Experts on Rugby Australia contract matters, such as Senator Eric Abetz, Alan Jones and Australian Christian Lobby head Martyn Isles, will respectfully refrain from comment on the dispute over the weekend, to allow everyone to enjoy the Super Rugby semi-finals.

Because the game is bigger than any individual, right?

Harry
TIPS: JAGUARES, HURRICANES

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The Jaguares pass the ball around more than the Brumbies, kick (a lot) more (25 kicks per game versus 17), steal more lineouts (17 versus 5) and in winning many more turnovers, are pinged more.

I see the best loose forward in Super Rugby as either Pablo Matera or Ardie Savea. Matera to score the first and last and winning tries.

Ardie Savea

Hurricanes player Ardie Savea – how good is he? (Dianne Manson/Getty Images)

The Hurricanes also kicked about three more times per match than the Crusaders, who offload far more (182 vs 121), and miss fewer tackles. The Bulls pack had ascendency in the quarter-final but the referee was whistle-shy (that’s good) at scrum time.

So, the Saders may have easy field position. But there’s just something about BBBBB’s added maturity and the delicious battle between him and Richie Mo’unga. The first try to be scored by Ngani Laumape.

Canes by almost plenty!

Get your votes in now – The Crowd’s tips will be revealed Friday afternoon AEDT.

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Who have you got, Roarers? Who gets your tip this weekend?