Can Jaguares sling giants?

The 2019 Super Rugby final is a David-versus-Goliath showdown between the Crusaders and Jaguares in Christchurch.

Chasing their third successive title, the nine-time champion Crusaders host the competition’s Argentine contenders who will cap off their first post-season quest in team history with a maiden final.

As if this didn’t present enough of an obstacle for the Jaguares, getting hands on the trophy will require them to snap the Crusaders’ 30-match streak at home.

However, an upset is not beyond the realms of reason. The Jaguares are not toothless and there’s no team more at home on the road, as proven by them winning in Wellington against a Hurricanes outfit that went on to run the Crusaders close in Saturday’s semi-final.

Their recipe for success is simple and effective – the SA Conference champs lead Super Rugby for Kicks, Turnovers Won and Passes. This tactical approach is likely to wheel their defence into the spotlight because the Crusaders are ranked among the top three for attack stats such as Ball Carries, Metres Run, Line breaks, Tackle breaks, Passes and Offloads.

With ace finisher Sevu Reece in tow, and a three-peat on the line, the Crusaders will stick to what they’ve done all season. Their cause will likely be aided by a Jaguares team that made the most handling errors and conceded the most penalties this season.

But the Crusaders’ inclination to allocate a higher percentage of their kicks to attacking zones of the field means the defending champs will have to break through a defensive line that made the second-most tackles in 2019 to reap the most turnovers.

Furthermore, the Crusaders are a low-volume lineout side and on Saturday the Jaguares – who topped the league for Lineouts stolen – will repeatedly trade possession for field position, often resulting in a contestable lineout downfield.

If the set pieces are messy, the Jaguares will get their tails up and the Crusaders will have to box their way out of a corner to keep the trophy.

Super Rugby finalists’  Stats: (Ranking) Value

  • Points: (1st) CRU 544-505 JAG (3rd)
  • Tries: (1st) CRU 78-65 JAG (4th)
  • Goal-kicking %: CRU 74-74 JAG

Attack stats:

  • Ball Carries: (2nd) CRU 1,929-1,805 JAG (5th)
  • Metres run: (1st) CRU 12,584-11,291 JAG (8th)
  • Metres per carry: CRU 6.5-6.3 JAG
  • Line breaks: (1st) CRU 103-67 JAG (9th)
  • Tackle breaks: (3rd) CRU 90-83 JAG (7th)
  • Passes: (2nd) CRU 2,731-2,756 JAG (1st)
  • Good Passes: (2nd) CRU 2,408-2,485 JAG (1st)
  • Offloads: (2nd) CRU 189-139 JAG (9th)
  • Turnovers conceded: (4th) CRU 236-250 JAG (1st)

Defence stats:

  • Tackles made: (6th) CRU 2,287-2,523 JAG (2nd)
  • Tackles missed: (8th) CRU 291-331 JAG (3rd)
  • Tackle-completion %: CRU 89-88 JAG
  • Dominant tackles: (12th) CRU 134-181 JAG (7th)
  • Tackle turnover: (15th) CRU 37-63 JAG (2nd)
  • Turnovers won: (2nd) CRU 89-108 JAG (1st)

Kick stats:

  • Kicks from hand: (8th) CRU 338-452 JAG (1st)
  • Metres kicked: (12th) CRU 8,970-13,163 JAG (1st)
  • Metres per kick: CRU 26.5-29 JAG

Error stats:

  • Handling errors: (6th) CRU 263-307 JAG (1st)
  • Penalties conceded: (4th) CRU 139-162 JAG (1st)
  • Yellow cards: CRU 5-6 JAG
  • Red cards: CRU 0-0 JAG

First phase stats:

  • Lineouts won: (12th) CRU 159-181 JAG (5th)
  • Lineouts stolen: (5th) CRU 11-21 JAG (1st)
  • Scrums Penalties: (T-2nd) CRU 30-30 JAG (T-2nd)

- Zelim Nel

Let's chat

  • Herman

    As shown quite clearly on Saturday the Crusaders may as well start celebrating now. Right in front of Nick Berry, game practically over, Canes on the attack, Crusaders defence all over the show and Whitelock gently puts his hand into the ruck taps the ball and Perenara knocks on. If the reverse situation had happened and the Crusaders needed clean ball it would have been deemed cynical the Canes player sent to the bin and probably a penalty try to the Crusaders. Nick Berry would then have been carried off the field on the Crusaders shoulders and a gold watch awarded to him at the after match ceremony. Stranger things have happened.

    If Jackass Peyper gets the whistle the Jags might as well stay at home. NZ’s favourite ref by a country mile will not let his fans down believe me. Bring Nigel Owens in for this one to ensure no ‘home town’ decisions.

    As for the Jags well just stick to your game plan. Channel one quick ball a must at scrum time and you should have no problems at lineout time. Who knows but you’ll be doing the world of rugby a big favour by toppling the Crusaders. Maybe Tom Cruise can come in and assist you with your mission impossible at Christchurch. It’s going to take an extraordinary effort on Saturday plus unbiased officials to pull this one off but go for it.

    And just to bring in the dom krag angle so a not to disappoint the ‘fans’, it is noteworthy that the last four finals have been contested by teams outside NZ who play a balanced expansive game. No dom krag SA Franchise has gone beyond the QF’s. Yet the bulk of Rassie’s squad will no doubt come from this primitive source. Makes you think doesn’t it. Cheers.

    • John Comyn

      Herman I’m just glad it is the Jaguares and not Lions. At least we won’t have to watch another SA side taking a thumping. The last couple of years has been embarrassing! Cheers

      • Herman

        Sarcasm ? If not then you must admit that contesting three finals is not embarrassing at all, certainly not to me. It’s consistently not even getting to, or even winning a playoff game like all the others that should have plenty of red faces in and among those failed Franchise players and their administrators as well as their oh so long suffering supporters. I feel your pain. Cheers.

  • Barry

    Interesting Hermie, Owens with the whistle and what, Israel Folau keeping touch?

    I think the Saders will look at the Lions having beaten the Jaguars home and away and try and taking something out of that anomaly.

    Similarly the Jags will take heart from the Sharks game and realize that the Saders CAN be beaten at home.

    I think a bridge too far this year for the Jags, but it does mark the dawning of a new era. They’ll be up there again next year. They now know how to do!

    • Herman

      Good one. Just confirmed, Peyper to ref, contest over. Cheers.

    • John Comyn

      It could have been Seconds with Nigh & Israel running the trams – LOL Cheers

  • John Comyn

    Stats even out. The Crusaders attack stats are better but the Jags defense stats are better. The Jags error stats are a concern but they win the 1st phase stats by a mile. So much for stats! This could go to the wire. The Crusaders are looking a bit jaded and were lucky against the Canes. My money is with the Jaguares.

  • Chris Mouton

    I’ll be cheering for the Jaguares on Saturday. They’re quite a balanced team and exciting to watch. They just need to avoid the scrums, as it’s a definite weakness.

  • Redge

    I believe the Jaguares can beat the Saders. They are highly motivated and have done extremely well this year. I just hope that the referee will be up to standard and not afraid to punish the Crusaders. Lots of holding back of players of the ball from all NZ teams and testing the offside lines all the time. Illegal tackles without arms is a trademark of the NZ teams.

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