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Super Rugby Preview (SF): Crusaders v Hurricanes

Thursday, June 27, 2019    Lynn McConnell    

Match Details: Crusaders v Hurricanes, 7.35pm, Saturday, June 29, Orangetheory Stadium, Christchurch

Played: 37
Won: Crusaders 22, Hurricanes 12, Drawn 3
Last time: Crusaders 38-22, Wellington, March 29, 2019
Referee: Nic Berry

FORM

Both teams have won 12 games heading into the semifinal. The Crusaders beat: the Blues 24-22a and 19-11, the Hurricanes 38-22 and 32-8a, the Reds 22-12a, the Chiefs 57-28, the Brumbies 36-14, the Highlanders 43-17 and 38-14(QF), the Lions 36-10, the Bulls 45-13 and the Rebels 66-0. They shared two points from their abandoned game with the Highlanders while drawing 21-21 with the Sharks and 19-19a with the Stormers. Their two losses were to the Waratahs 12-20a and the Chiefs 27-40 in Fiji. The Hurricanes beat the Waratahs 20-19a, the Brumbies 43-13, the Highlanders 25-22 and 31-28a, the Stormers 34-28, the Sunwolves 29-23a, the Chiefs 47-19, the Rebels 29-19, the Blues 22-12a and 29-24, the Sharks 30-17a, the Lions 37-17a and the Bulls 35-28 (QF). Their losses were to the Crusaders 22-38a and 8-32, and the Jaguares 20-28. They drew their first game with the Chiefs 23-23.
TAUFUA TO CELEBRATE

The Crusaders are unchanged from the side which beat the Highlanders in last weekend's quarterfinal. Blindside flanker Jordan Taufua has been named on the bench and if he takes the field he will play his 100th game for the Crusaders. He will become the 18th Crusader to reach the milestone. Unavailable for consideration was prop Tim Perry who continues to be hampered by an arm injury. Coach Scott Robertson said: "We've really enjoyed this week. The group came in excited to have earned another opportunity to play at home, and we've prepared accordingly for this quality Hurricanes side. They're well-coached, with genuine attacking threats across the park, so we know there is a massive challenge ahead of us this weekend."

MILESTONE FOR PERENARA

Hurricanes halfback TJ Perenara will become the most capped player for the side, moving ahead of Ma'a Nonu and Conrad Smith in making his 127th appearance spread over eight seasons. He has scored 53 tries in that time, second only to Hurricanes legend Christian Cullen. Coach John Plumtree said, "TJ has been a remarkable player and leader of the Hurricanes for such a long time and we know he shows that every time he goes out with the jersey on. He will will relish the challenge of going down to play the Crusaders having a chance to play in a Super Rugby final." Only one change has been made to the side which started last weekend's quarterfinal against the Bulls with the injured Wes Goosen replaced by Salesi Rayasi on the wing. On the bench Vaea Fifita is back after completing his suspension while James Marshall has been included after recovering from an elbow injury. Xavier Numia replaces Fraser Armstrong.

THE SCOOP

The Crusaders have won their last seven finals games in succession, a feat that has only been achieved once before, by the Crusaders who won nine times between 1998 and 2003. They also go into the game unbeaten in 29 games on home turf.

FAST FACT

The Hurricanes have only won once in their nine previous finals games away from home – five of their losses were to the Crusaders. But in their last four New Zealand derbies, the Hurricanes have won. In the final quarters of their games this year they have conceded only five tries, the least in the competition.

TEAMS:

Crusaders: 1.Joe Moody, 2.Codie Taylor, 3.Owen Franks, 4.Scott Barrett, 5.Sam Whitelock (captain), 6.Whetukamokamo Douglas, 7.Matt Todd, 8.Kieran Read, 9.Bryn Hall, 10.Richie Mo'unga, 11.George Bridge, 12.Ryan Crotty, 13.Jack Goodhue, 14.Sevu Reece, 15.David Havili.

Substitutes: 16.Andrew Makalio, 17.George Bower, 18.Michael Alaalatoa, 19.Luke Romano, 20.Jordan Taufua, 21.Mitchell Drummond, 22.Mitchell Hunt, 23.Braydon Ennor.

Hurricanes: 1.Toby Smith, 2.Dane Coles (captain), 3.Jeff To'omaga-Allen, 4.James Blackwell, 5.Isaia Walker-Leawere, 6.Reed Prinsep, 7.Ardie Savea, 8.Gareth Evans, 9.TJ Perenara, 10.Beauden Barrett, 11.Ben Lam, 12.Ngani Laumape, 13.Peter Umaga-Jensen, 14.Salesi Rayasi, 15.Jordie Barrett.

Substitues: 16.Asafo Aumua, 17.Xavier Numia, 18.Ben May, 19.Kane Le'aupepe, 20.Vaea Fifita, 21.Richard Judd, 22.James Marshall, 23.Jonah Lowe.