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    Plumtree pinpoints flyhalf battle

    2017-07-27 14:21

    Christchurch - Hurricanes assistant coach John Plumtree has pinpointed the battle between flyhalves Beauden Barrett and Elton Jantjies as the decisive one ahead of Saturday's semi-final.

    The Hurricanes clash with the Lions in a repeat of last year's final, but this time around the Lions will have home advantage. 

    It will make for an intriguing encounter as the Hurricanes (39) and Lions (38) average the most points scored per game of any teams in the competition so far this season, while each also has conceded a league-low 18 points per game. 

    The Hurricanes have scored 93 tries whi\le the Lions have scored 84 tries. As their sides' respective playmakers, both Barrett and Jantjies have been integral to this prolific form. 

    Jantjies was surprisingly off-form in the Lions' quarter-final victory over the Sharks and missed a few easy penalty kicks. 

    But Plumtree believes the Lions pivot will put in a strong performance on the weekend, something the 'Canes need to be wary of. 

    "Elton has been consistently good this season. He just had a bad game last weekend, which happens to all 10s," Plumtree told SARugbymag.co.za. 

    "He didn't kick well against the Sharks, but could easily knock everything over against us. I know Elton well, and he would have worked hard during the week." 

    Plumtree went on to say the defending champions will need a big performance from the leaders in the side. 

    "This is a big game and we need all of our big players to step up, not just Beauden," Plumtree said.

    "But I know he will be excited by the challenge and will go out and give his best, which is all we can ask of him. 

    Meanwhile, the former Sharks coach expects the Lions to continue to trust in the expansive style of play which has worked for them.

    "I expect the Lions to play the way they have been playing as it's proven to be a winning recipe," Plumtree said. 

    "They may just be a bit more conservative at the start. 

    "I had a feeling the Sharks would do something different for that game, and for 75 minutes it looked like we'd be flying home to Wellington [for a semi-final against the Sharks].

    "Obviously when that late kick went over [from Ruan Combrinck], we knew we'd be flying to Johannesburg. It wasn't too difficult for us to make that mental shift as we had been expecting the Lions to win the game beforehand."

    Teams:


    Crusaders


    15 David Havili, 14 Israel Dagg, 13 Jack Goodhue, 12  Ryan Crotty, 11 Seta Tamanivalu, 10 Richie Mo'unga, 9 Bryn Hall, 8 Kieran Read, 7 Matt Todd, 6 Jordan Taufua, 5 Sam Whitelock (captain), 4 Scott Barrett, 3 Owen Franks, 2 Codie Taylor, 1 Joe Moody 



    Substitutes: 16  Ben Funnell, 17 Wyatt Crockett,18  Michael Alaalatoa, 19 Luke Romano, 20 Pete Samu, 21 Mitchell Drummond, 22 Mitchell Hunt, 23 George Bridge


    Chiefs

    15 Damian McKenzie, 14 Tim Nanai-Williams, 13 Anton Lienert-Brown , 12 Charlie Ngatai, 11 James Lowe, 10 Aaron Cruden (co-captain), 9 Tawera Kerr-Barlow, 8 Michael Leitch,7  Sam Cane (co-captain), 6 Liam Messam, 5 Brodie Retallick, 4 Mitchell Brown, 3 Nepo Laulala, 2 Nathan Harris, 1 Kane Hames 


    Substitutes:  16 Liam Polwart, 17 Aidan Ross, 18 Atu Moli, 19 Dominic Bird, 20 Lachlan Boshier, 21 Finlay Christie, 22 Stephen Donald, 23 Shaun Stevenson

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