Ahead of the semi-finals in Super Rugby, we are putting our head on the block and picking our winners from the two big matches this weekend.
After victories over the Chiefs and Sharks respectively, the Jaguares and Brumbies go head-to-head in Buenos Aires on Friday.
An all-New Zealand clash then follows as defending champions Crusaders host the Hurricanes looking to secure their place in the showpiece event for the third successive season.
SUPER RUGBY SEMI-FINALS
Jaguares v Brumbies
A tight contest appears to be in the offing when the Jags take on the Canberra outfit later on Friday. Both have impressed this year but they have particularly come into form during the second half of the season.
The respective sides have shored up their weaknesses and become an excellent all-round outfit going into the last-four contest. For the Argentines, their issues were about decision-making and, at times, their defence, while the Australians initially struggled to get their attacking game going, but those are not concerns any more.
Instead, the Jaguares’ rearguard effort won them their quarter-final against the Chiefs and the Brumbies’ ability to move the ball was in evidence at home to the Sharks as they scored 38 points.
However, there are external factors at play with the visitors having to travel a long distance and that should play into the hands of Gonzalo Quesada’s men. Jaguares by 6.
Crusaders v Hurricanes
Who can stop the defending champions? Logic dictates that the Hurricanes have the best shot of anyone, with a backline brimming full of talent – including two-time World Player of the Year Beauden Barrett – but even they will struggle to get close to the Crusaders.
While their attack is impressive, it cannot do anything if they don’t have quality ball and that is where they are constantly exposed by Scott Robertson’s men. Although the Wellington outfit have gradually improved throughout the campaign, their two previous meetings with the nine-time winners in 2019 should not be ignored.
Robertson’s charges have comfortably beaten the ‘Canes twice this season, dominating the forward exchanges and winning 38-22 and 32-8.
It should be closer on Saturday, with the pack developing and Ardie Savea an absolute inspiration at openside. However, even though Savea has been the best back-rower in Super Rugby in 2019, his powers may well be blunted by the hosts’ All Blacks front five. Crusaders by 12.