Super Rugby 2019 Playoff Final: Crusaders vs Jaguares
Venue: Rugby League Park, Christchurch (NZ)
Date: Saturday, 6 July 2019
The history between these two sides is pretty simple. The match on Saturday will be the third time in which the Crusaders and Jaguares have met, with the New Zealand side being on the winning end of both previous contests. They haven’t been close either, with the Crusaders victories coming by an average margin of 22-points.
As you would expect from the two teams remaining in the competition, the Crusaders and the Jaguares are both bang in form.
The Jaguares are actually the team with the longest winning streak here, cruising into the final on the back of a 39-7 win over the Brumbies in Argentina last weekend. The home form this season was exceptional, but their away form has also been good as of late. The Jaguares have won five of six on their travels, including the last three in a row, and their 28.9 points per game scored in Super Rugby this season is second only to the Crusaders 33.2 points per contest.
The Crusaders were the last of these two teams to slip up as they were downed 40-27 by the in-form Chiefs in the penultimate round of the season. Since that contest, the Crusaders hammered the Rebels, took swift care of the Highlanders, but then survived a big scare against the Hurricanes in the semi-final last week. The 30-26 scoreline shows how close the game was and it will be interesting to see if the physicality of that matchup takes its toll on the home side here.
The Crusaders will be without two pieces for the final All Blacks Ryan Crotty and Scott Barrett have both been ruled out of the showpiece game after both were confirmed by x-rays to have broken bones in their hand. Crotty’s is the worst of the two, with his fractured thumb set to rule him out for the entire Rugby Championship on top of this game.
Expect Braydon Ennor to find his way into the Crusaders starting lineup in place of Crotty as he continues to impress this year for the Christchurch side. Look for the Crusaders to work the ball wide whenever they have space, with Sevu Reece sitting on 15 tries for the season, needing just one to equal the record set by Ben Lam in 2018.
The Jaguares will have no fear when they take to the ground in Christchurch for this game. The team is made up entirely of Argentine internationals, so there will be no nerves about trotting out for the biggest game in club rugby. The team has matured as the season has progressed and they are now playing the best rugby that they have all year.
Look for Guido Petti to be an important player in this game. The lock forward stole another pair of lineouts last week as the Jaguares destroyed the Brumbies throw early and often in the game. Petti now has 13 lineout steals on the season, three more than anyone else in the competition.
Everything points to the Crusaders here. Their home winning streak in the finals dates basically back to the dawn of the professional game and they have all the experience that you would want at this stage. It does, however, feel a little like they have come back to the pack this year and they are not the unstoppable force of a team that took to the field in 2017 and 2018. They are also missing two stalwarts and leaders in Barrett and Crotty. Plus, the Jaguares really are as good as advertised and they have won three of their last four on New Zealand soil.