It should be an absolute ripper, but if the Hurricanes are to make chopped liver of the Crusaders in their Super semi at the spartan-like stadium in Addington, they will need the following to happen:
*Around four to five of their players will almost need to play the match of their lives.
* For Beauden Barrett not to have one of his many inconsistent nights with the boot (though there’s always back up from beanpole bro- aka ‘Udon’).
* For the TMO to work in their favour, as it did for TJ Perenara’s first try last week.
* A mostly dry ground (A few lineout steals would help as well…and no reverse gears on their scrum).
* For Ngani Laumape to make a beeline for Richie Mo’unga, to see if his front-on defence resembles an AMI stadium turnstile or not. If yes, things will get very interesting very quickly.
*For Brad Shields to be at least the loose forward man of the match. The capital drums always beat loud for their man, but sorry, I’m almost in the Steve Hansen camp on this one. A tad unlucky over the years with national selection possibly; He’s good, certainly…but not great. (Just a second, I’m preparing the flak jacket…)
*For Jordie Barrett to try and show why Jack Goodhue isn’t the best thing down there since the Shield reign of ‘82-’85. That battle alone is enough reason to watch every second of the action.
*Most importantly, for the Canes to keep the ball in their jurisdiction as often as possible. The ‘saders can’t score without the pigskin pill. And by the way, the Crusaders’ backline isn’t half bad, is it?
*All the above points could be rendered redundant though if the Crusaders improve even 7-8% on last weeks’ demolition of the Sharks. Scott Robertson’s mob really are that damn good.
And finally, on a different tack: I’m in agreement with the piece Dylan Cleaver wrote on the benefits of the Super rugby conference system. However, from what I know and have listened to, the general beef fans have isn’t with the system itself. It’s when those farcical-looking total points tables are published in the dailies, and you see that the team in eighth has more points than the team coming third. It just looks like a misprint.
Here’s a new and novel idea, media- why not publish separate Conference tables, and avoid all the confusion. It’s then fair enough to publish the whole table with the daft-looking points situation, but also put an add-on to quantify how things work closer to the quarter-finals. ESPN Australia have it about right:
You never see a whole combined table published for American football or baseball. It would of course look completely lop-sided to be ridiculous. So they don’t do it. We should bear this in mind. And benefit from not looking like a laughing stock.
Gripe over, enjoy the game everyone…