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
- 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)
- 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)
- 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
- 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)