By Christopher Reive, NZ Herald
Will the Crusaders lock away another Super Rugby title, or can the Jaguares cause a famous upset? Christopher Reive takes you through all you need to know ahead of the Super Rugby final.
The Jaguares are in uncharted territory – and it couldn’t be a more exciting prospect for them. The Argentinians will run out in their first Super Rugby final on Saturday night, in their fourth year in the competition. With an 11-5 record earning them the top spot in the South African conference, they’ll undoubtedly gain a lot of support from the neutral fans as the underdogs against the nine-time champion Crusaders, who are looking for their third straight title.
The Crusaders finished the regular season with 11 wins, three draws and two losses, to sit atop the New Zealand conference. On the road to the final, the Jaguares beat the Chiefs and Brumbies, while the Crusaders took down the Highlanders and Hurricanes to qualify.
The Crusaders are without a number of key players, including departing midfielder Ryan Crotty who has been ruled out and robbed of the chance at a dream finish to his Crusaders career. The two sides avoided each other during the regular season, with their last meeting a 40-14 win to the Crusaders in April of 2018.
It’s not a player match-up that will be key to either side winning, but an eight-player match-up. The performances of the packs could very well be where this game is won. The Jaguares are a big, physical team who are at their best when they are able to win the battle in the forwards. They’re happy to grind away through their big men in order to open the game up for the backs.
The Crusaders possess one of the strongest packs in the competition, but are missing a key cog in Scott Barrett. Barrett has been a big part of the team this season and his ability to move seamlessly from lock to flanker has been an asset. Mitchell Dunshea has big shoes to fill, but the Crusaders will definitely be up for the challenge the Jaguares pack presents.
Crusaders: David Havili, Sevu Reece, Braydon Ennor, Jack Goodhue, George Bridge, Richie Mo’unga, Bryn Hall, Kieran Read, Matt Todd, Whetukamokamo Douglas, Sam Whitelock, Mitchell Dunshea, Owen Franks, Codie Taylor, Joe Moody.
Jaguares: Emiliano Boffelli, Matias Moroni, Matias Orlando, Jeronimo de la Fuente, Ramiro Moyano, Joaquin Diaz Bonilla, Tomas Cubelli, Javier Ortega Desio, Marcos Kremer, Pablo Matera, Tomas Lavanini, Guido Petti, Santiago Medrano, Agustin Creevy, Nahuel Tetaz Chaparro.
Where and when?
Orangetheory Stadium, Christchurch; Saturday July 6; 7.35pm kick-off.
Watch – Crusaders pre-Super Rugby final press conference:
Sign up to our mailing list here and we’ll keep you up to the minute with weekly updates from the world of rugby.