Thursday, June 20, 2019

Super Rugby Quarterfinals Preview

2019 Quarterfinal Knockouts
All players, on their respective fields of battle, will not only be showing Super Rugby form, but that expression of individual skills within their unitary XV, which may earn them inclusion on their nation’s transport to Tokyo in two months’ time.

Friday, June 21:
               Crusaders (1) v (8) Highlanders at the AMI, Christchurch - 1:30am MST: this is a re-match of a fixture won by the travelers a fortnight ago in Waikato; home XV have seemed to flip the nitro switch whenever it’s needed... witness the 80-minute knockout punch thrown in their last outing at the AMI wherein they knocked Rebels about unmercifully; Highlanders must be on fire, each and every from numbers 1-23, if the Men from the Hills would see joy at the end of this one; Ben Smith returns from injury at 15 for the visitors and Liam Squire will work the blindside while Aaron Smith-Josh Ioane halfback duo will orchestrate backline maneuvers, and Shannon Frizzell will come off the bench; Bryn Hall serves the pill to Richie Mo’unga at the pivot and hosts have a wealth of talent at every position; clear skies, low 50s and a bit of wind from the northwest for this derby;

               Jaguares (2) v (7) Chiefs at José Amalfitani, Buenos Aires - 4pm MST: Cats have lost once in their last ten games and are sparking an electricity that is swift and smooth-flowing until it's explosive and devastating; Los Jefes have been on a streak themselves, taking down the league’s best during the course of their last five with one loss in that handful; for Jaguares, cagey veteran Augustin Creevy will strike in the sets, Tomas Cubelli-Joaquin Diaz Bonilla will conduct the flow, and the three-quartersline of Jeronimo de la Fuente through Emiliano Boffelli will be firing the Buenos Aires evening skyline; travelers for their measure are powered by a formidable brace of engines in Canadian Tyler Ardron and the inimitable Brodie Retallick; Sam Cane’s at openside and Brad Weber-Jack Debreczeni halfbacks pairing is cranking on all cylinders as evidenced in Melbourne last weekend; Chiefs the only squad with a negative points’ differential, which you may expect they may want to switch up on the day; low 60s, little wind, way outside chance of rain;

Saturday, June 22:
               Brumbies (3) v (6) Sharks at the GIO, Canberra - 1:30am MST: homeys on a roll, to be sure - five victories in succession, but only one of those happy cards was dealt to a club that has extended their season; The Mob have not lost to an SA squad this year, save for defeat at the hands of Jaguares and that was only by five at José Amalfitani in April; Sharks got into extra time by knocking brethren Stormers out in their final match of the regular season on the trot, ending a two-match skid, so they can win on the road when they have to - well, they have today to do it or it’ll be a grimly glum ride home;  Brumbies can stampede the score, while Sharks defense is their strength, as it was in the aforementioned arm wrestle at Newlands, but the Durbanites will need to count some numbers should they desire a happy ending from this night’s efforts; Curwin Bosch returns for the visitors in the middle of the backthree backs, which will provide punch and counter-punching capabilities should hoists from the hosts string-puller, Christian Lealiifano, travel too far or not for long enough to allow cover to converge; Sharks are the only playoffs club without a winning record; coolish, clear with temps in the mid-40s and no real wind;

               Hurricanes (4) v (5) Bulls at the Westpac, Wellington - 4am MST: Surgical theater of fine-tuned Beau Barrett and blunt trauma specialist, Ardie Savea, are at the top of their respective arcs and should carry this day if visitors captain, Handre Pollard, is not able to rally his cohort to great height this day; Jesse Kriel is back and that’ll help in the midfield for travelers, but it’ll take some kind of defensive sparkle from Los Teros in order to corral the fierce offense of the ‘Canes and win the day; mid-50s, no rain, no wind and partial cloud cover for the game;

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