Super Rugby 2019: Semi-Final Predictions

Crusaders

My upset pick of the Chiefs over the Jaguares didn’t come off last week, despite a fast start from the Kiwis, the Jaguares came back and then held the lead firm until the end. It has meant a drop in the rankings, and now with only three matches to go, I can’t see there being any more upsets – 3 home wins and another title for the Crusaders.

I’ve enjoyed the Super Rugby season this year, but it’s fizzling out now because we know how it ends. And with the Northern Hemisphere teams in limbo with no June Internationals, some are beginning their World Cup preparations, others are resting, and it’s a slightly odd time in the world of rugby with not a lot going on.

Anyway, here are your Super Rugby predictions for the two semi-finals this weekend.

Jaguares v Brumbies
It’s the Brumbies’ home form that has carried them to the semi-finals, and I really don’t fancy them in Buenos Aires this weekend. Particularly up against the Jaguares who rarely lose at home, and who beat the Brumbies in the regular season back in April. Both teams are at full-strength with plenty of internationals on display, but I think this is a trip too far for the Australians.
Jaguares by 16

Crusaders v Hurricanes
The Crusaders have won the last four against their New Zealand rivals, all fairly comfortably, and that includes beating them both home and away this season. The champions’ rest and rotation policy has served them so well that they finally named a full-strength team for the quarter-finals last weekend, and now they are unchanged for the semi. I’m looking forward to seeing Richie Mo’unga up against Beauden Barrett as the two All Black fly-halves compete for a starting berth in the Rugby World Cup, and it should be a cracker of a game, but I can’t see anything but a home win. Crusaders by 13

Follow Hutch on Twitter: @Hutch_James

29 thoughts on “Super Rugby 2019: Semi-Final Predictions

  1. Yep, now that the U20 final has invisibly slipped by, it’s only the SR semis & can’t argue with the predictions. Jags have proved CONSISTENTLY good & developed a more skilled, all round game with danger men in their backs & their fwds are tough & skilful too, linking ! Interchanging effectively with their back line. @ home, unbeatable here? Similarly with Canterbury. Don’t quite know why they are mostly so effective. After all, they’ve Intro’ed new players like, Reece, Bridge & Ennor, whom’ve slotted in seemlessly. 1 may even have a shout @ AB selection? However, they just do the basics so well, seemingly make fewer errors than others & have developed vision for creating space. Think Robertson is a bit of a flash git, but his team have walked the walk, so hard to argue with that. For the Hurricanes to have any chance, they simply can’t make any errors & esp not give turnovers & pens away. Yes, 2 probable NZ Fly 1/2’s jousting may be interesting, but still Mission Impossible for Wellington? Probably & yet Canterbury have been decisively beaten a couple of times, so there may be some hope.. so long as get also get the rub of the ref’s whistle too? Big if & I won’t be holding my breath. Likely turn blue otherwise. Still, hope they’re both positive, competitive games with a few TRIES involved.




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  2. What I would like to see is that games are won by players and not with the aid of dodgy referee calls.Can 12 Wallabies + 3 beat 14 Pumas +1.It is possible but not probable.Expect Brumbies to give Jaquares a run for their money so advantage to home team by 3.

    If the Brumbies pull this one off I wont cry or act surprised.

    Crusaders are ripe for the picking and if Canes
    get their act together like Chiefs did a couple of weeks ago they could upset the form book.
    Still advantage to home team by 6 I think.

    Anyway I think it is too late to catch the Kiwi in the Rugby blog and with others hot in pursuit I think it is a Cool thing to do.




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    1. Agree about refs. Sometimes less is more in their case. Brumbies, Canes final? Doesn’t seem likely, esp bearing home advantage in mind. Both away teams will need everything to go right for them, incl refs’ calls & be error free. Hope I’m wrong, but as Canterbury have only lost 2 (I think), I just can’t see them as ‘ripe for the picking’. Didn’t understand ‘Cool thing to do’ comment?




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      1. Hi Don
        I am second place (Cool) on the Rugby blog (Superbru)and have been chasing Kiwi for the last couple of weeks,but unable to make any inroads.
        So I reckon the Cool thing to do is to stick with the Jaquares and Crusaders.

        The Crusaders have a number of players like Read that I think are almost past their sell by dates.If there had to be a playoff between the Saracens and Crusaders ,i would put money on the Saracens.




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        1. I see. Don’t do Superbru. The Jags have creamed The Wild Horses, so have to see if the Saders can do the bizzo. Surprised @ yr ‘almost (but not just yet?) past their sell by’ comment re Canter. Win today & they’ll be @ a home final. Read, after a yr out due to surgery, played pretty prominently last up according to commentators!? Regds Canter v Sarries, might depend on venue? However, where are Sarries superior? V mostly an AB pack, up front? Fly1/2, centres, back 3? Besides, Sarries lost a few in the Prem didn’t they? Not quite impregnable methinks.




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          1. Games are won upfront as shown by the
            jaquares.Northern hemisphere forward play
            in my opinion superior to Southern hemisphere.

            Pick the right 8 and the All Blacks won’t survive.




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            1. Long on opinion Frans, but little to back it up. ‘Pick the right No. 8 & NZ won’t survive’. Really? So why are they still No.1? Maybe you can name the No. 8’s teams teams need only pick to beat NZ. Should be simple enough, shouldn’t it? Or are you just having a giraffe? Empty vessel stuff? Also, games are only partially won up front. Unless teams convert fwd ‘superiority’ into points, they won’t win. AB’s have won a few with less territory, possession, often away. How does this square with yr theory? Siting the Jags win v the Brumbies is not indicative. They have also developed backs to convert possession. And they are an international side. Might find it tougher v int’al oppo, away, in Japan.




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              1. In 1960 I managed to secure a standing only ticket to watch the Boks play the All Blacks
                at Ellis Park (25 june 1960).In the early hours of the morning I left home,hoping that nobody would start looking for me.

                The Bok front row demolished the All Blacks upfront and the game was won 13-0.
                On 27 July I was again at Ellis Park and watch the Boks play to a 13 all draw against the all all-conquering British and Irish Lions denying them a clean sweep.For the first time the Boks were able to match the Lions and with good front foot ball they scored a vital try to secure a draw.
                So selection in my opinion start with the
                hooker ,tight head to anchor the scrum
                and loose head,No 4 to enforce play upfront and the rest will follow,

                No 9 and 10 should be able to kick with
                both feet and take the pack forward and no 10 should be strong enough to defend the no 10 channel and take on the opposing flankers and no 8.
                At 12 you need an organiser and defense
                busting center.The back 3 should be able
                to provide cover defense and link with no
                13.
                Perhaps England should go back and have a look at how the won the world cup in 1993.In my book an ugly win is better than a pretty loss.
                So bring back the art of the drop kick.Easy points and go home happy.

                Can any Northern hemisphere team pull it off.Yes they can with the right selection.

                As far as the Brumbies are concerned it was by far the worst performance by any
                Aussie team in a 1/4 final.Remember the Jaquares lost twice against the Lions.




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                1. Frans, picking 1 isolated AB, SA game in 1960 & the last Br Lions test in 74 & in which Max Baise frankly cheated by disallowing a perfectly good Lions’ winning try & calling the game off 5 mins early, are not enought evidence to support yr v Saffa & R1 theory. The game’s advanced since then. Agree that a team needs an adequate scrum & a No. 8, but it needs more than that. Yr back line requirements also have some merit. However, again, the backs need more than just the basics you proffer. Both fwds & backs must combine their basic duties with making decisions on whether to run, pass or kick it (although not nec the latter in the fwds’ case). The awareness of space & ability to create it with extra numbers, like line insertions (incl back 3), wrap arounds, stepping in, then immed out, to draw defenders etc are essential to max use of possession & thus points, are @ least as important. When not in possession, a team must stop the oppo from scoring. This also requires keeping discipline, shape, skill & decision making about whether, for instance, to flood the ruck or not, guarding the breakdown flanks, l or r, aligning wider out, again, more l or r & so on. England were trad @ Twickenham last yr v NZ. Started ok for 35, but were then nilled. Lacked guile, preffing yr R1. And kicking 1/2’s, l or r, didn’t work too well v Wales or the Jocks. Too rigid. Lacked application of skill, nous to change what wasn’t working & from winning positions! A NH team might win the WC, who knows, but the bookies haven’t put their houses on it? And it’s a more even playing field, AWAY, in Japan, so we’ll see. I also doubt, BTW, that the AB’s will pick their skipper for the Cup if they thought he were past it. Maybe they’ll still rate his EXP & ability to run & pass like a 3/4er, not least in that epic v SA, away, for that dot down behind the poles? Again, we’ll see.




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            2. Well Frans, according to the stats, The Jaguares won it up front by dint of their superiority in terms of territory & possession. Yet they lost. How do you account for this?




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  3. Crusaders Hurricanes was a great match, absolute free for all at the rucks but these teams want to play quick! TJ was my MOM and BB did more than enough to ensure he keeps the ABs 10 shirt. Aggressive tackling 9s like Tj and say Faf are so effective at disrupting quick ball though, hope to see them face off in the RC




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  4. Don
    The fundamentals of the game have not changed.In rugby it is all about combinations.Combinations are not developed overnight.It takes time.The longer they play and win together,the higher the confidence.The problem with England and many other teams is that good ball is kicked away and bad ones put in circulation.the secret is to create opportunities for players in better positions.
    Once teams start losing coaches are under public pressure and often change teams.This creates uncertainty by players, am I in or out.

    The Jaquares are with a few exceptions the Argentina national team, first allowed to compete in the local Vodacom competition which they eventually won and enabled them to perform better in the world cup.

    Believe me they were just ordinary players.The same team was allowed to take part in Superrugby.Once they started winning their confidence grew and players developed to their
    full potential.
    in South Africa we don’t have that luxury and local Super 15 teams are in a yearly rebuilding process.The Lions were the exception,but once
    their few stars players left,they are nowhere.

    The Crusaders retain core players and are able to to gradually phase in talented young players.
    The wallabies are in the same position as South Africa looking to bring back some of their oversees players.

    According to the latest stats about 350 of the most talented South African rugby players are playing oversees.No country can afford such drain an still hope to remain competitive.

    The national coach Erasmus is bringing back a number of overseas players.This does not sit well with many players that remained loyal here,




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    1. Already acknowledged Frans. Fundamentals ARE required. However, as the game has evolved, such as the ruck n tackle law’s changing the game whereby actual ‘rucking’ is essentially outlawed, so fwds are now often required to defend in the back line. They’re also expected to run & offload like backs. Conversely, backs nowadays, are expected to get stuck into the ‘ruck’, if they are the 1st men there & attempt turnovers. Hence my prev blog comments. Combo’s? Don’t quite understand yr ‘all about’ comment. To dev combo’s requires continuity of selection. Familiarity should then improve understanding of others’ play. Comprehend 1/2’s’, centres’ combo’s, also fr, 2nd & back rows, but surely it’s as much about team nous & being aware of specific plays & their execution in given circumstances? You point out England’s limitations in kicking it away & recycling bad ball. However, as they have a 1/2 combination in situ with Youngs & Farrell, isn’t it more about better understanding taking options & their execution rather than just having said combo? Agree there’s little point point in just shuffling the Titanic’s deck chairs when a team starst losing. Need to dev & play better rugby. Regards Argentina, surely they’d have to be a bit better than being ‘ordinary players’ to reach this SR final? In respect of SA SR teams’ draining, covered by Pichot’s NH player movement comment. Needs addressing. Unsure if Oz are in same sit as SA re overseas players. Although they brought back a couple for the last WC, they have also intro’ed a few ‘newbies’. You prev stated they Canter have a few ‘past their sell by’. Well, the old geezers are in the SR final. Agree that they have also intro’ed new blood; Reece, Bridge & Ennor e.g.




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      1. Hi Don P
        Run out of gas you say and forwards handling like backs.Forwards running like backs is not a new but forgotten skill,just like the art of dribbling (not kicking) appears to have vanished and is perhaps today disallowed ,has disappeared from the rugby scene.

        This maybe due to the emphasis on size and
        physicality that has become the trend of modern rugby.
        The All Blacks so it is claimed whether true or not got their name:”Reference to the team by the name “All Blacks” first appeared during the Originals tour when, according to Billy Wallace, a London newspaper reported that the New Zealanders played as if they were “all backs”. Wallace claimed that due to a typographical error, subsequent references were to “All Blacks”
        The late dr Danie Graven on a regular basis sent his beloved Maties on tours to the Transvaal to improve the standard of club rugby.Let me assure you the passing and handling skills of the forwards were superb.

        Dr Graven by the way introduced the dive pass
        The 1906 Springboks became “the first national team to utilize the 3-4-1.They demolished teams using the 4-3-1 formations.

        The 3-4-1 formation required loose forwards that could scrum well as the flankers had to support the props.So scrum first before you start running around.A further requirement was the ability to provide cover defense and to link intelligently with the backs, whose passing and running was always a delight to see.

        You can watch the 1987 Currie Cup Final Noord Transvaal vs Transvaal on youtube and see Transvaal with the aid of Western Province
        imports scoring tries and Naas Botha behind the Northern Transvaal pack kick 4 drop and 4 penalty goals,to clinch the match 24-18.There is no clearer demonstration between the North and South style of playing rugby in South Africa.

        Even today coaches battle to find a balance between the two. If they get it right like Ackermann did South Africa’s super 15 teams can compete with the best NZ has to offer,




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  5. The exodus of South African rugby players continues.The Lions camp announced a few minutes ago that another 10 players are leaving the franchise for greener pastures.This brings the total number of players that have left and are leaving during the past two seasons to 20.

    The Lions will battle to survive in the tough Super 15 competition in 2020.




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    1. Brett Gosper of WR has prev stated that ‘mkt forces’ rule. What’s he doing to stop player drain? Nuthin’ as far as I can tell. Should limit teams to a max no of imports, say 5? Maybe 3. If the latter, it would amount to less than a 100 in Europe. Dunno about Japan. However, it would be a lot less than 350, that’s for sure, although I don’t know where the rest play?




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  6. Frans, Don’t recall fwds handling like backs until more recent times, perhaps within the last decade. And I’m not just reffing to passing, handling. It’s also about, as prev mentioned, running lines, stepping in & immed out creating space, wraps, insertions, & timing of & deciding of same. Much more skillful nowadays. Agree that dribbling has vanished, but probably due to danger of giving possession away? Heard the Billy Wallace story too. Presumably true, although, like the invention of rugby itself, there may be an element of perception about it. Think it was Dannie Craven regarding the dive pass. I’m unaware of the scrum line up formations you ref, but am aware that the Boks used 8 in their scrum in 1949 (I think?) during their NZ tour. NZ deployed a ‘wing fwd’ & as I understand it, he didn’t pack down in the scrum, so it was 7 v 8. Didn’t adapt for that series & so lost it. 1st & only 1 in NZ I believe. Woke up a bit late then, but made up for it in more recent times. Like I’ve stated, fwds need trad, basic strengths, but also with additional superior running, passing skills, they & their backs, score more tries now & which trump 3 point drops. Regarding balance, I think of it more in terms of, when in possession a team must look to & score max points (pref tries), when not, stop the oppo from doing so.




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  7. Don
    One of the best if not the best touring teams to visit South Africa,the 1974 British Lions.
    Go to youtube and you’ll see forwards handling and combining with backs.




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    1. No doubt. 74 tour comes up on Sky TV mini docs from time to time. However, I still think that in more modern times, fwds are better integrated in this aspect of the game. Don’t recall, for instance, a Lions’ hooker sprinting down the touch line to score tries like Dane Coles, or a player who had the quick hands of Keiran Read to put away a team mate for same.




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    1. Mmm. Another BITW conspiracy theory? What are the criteria for such claims? For instance, ho was the best lock in the world? John Eales, because he could also kick goals, even lthough this is not part of the usual JD? Marx has power, mobility, tackle breaking & presumably, scrummaging abilities, but how often does he score tries? As stated, what criteria?




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  8. Marx 2019 Super 15
    Points 15
    Tries 3
    Metres 472
    Runs 138
    Defenders Beaten 9
    Clean Breaks 11
    Passes 60
    Try Assists 10
    in 2017 best streak of all forwards 6 games 6 tries.No conspiracy just facts.




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    1. Ok, so now you need to do the same with other SR hookers for comparison & to ensure that yr ‘facts’ are not lop sided.




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    1. Without stats for competitors, hard to prove too. However, in the end, it’s about a ‘star’ team, rather than just the ‘stars’ in the team.




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  9. Don
    Stats are freely available on the internet.Yep agree on star team,which local franchises find hard to achieve,because all their stars are shining lights in the Northern hemisphere.




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