Hurricanes coach Chris Boyd, reflecting on his side's quarter-final win over the Chiefs, admitted his side had at last played with aggression, something they hadn't done for a while.

They will need to bring that and more to Christchurch for their semifinal against the Crusaders next Saturday because it's at the contact areas – where the Hurricanes were so good against the Chiefs in Wellington – where the match will be won, and the red and blacks have the appearance of an immovable object.

The Hurricanes had hardly fired a shot a week before in Hamilton but at Wespac Stadium the ferocity of men such as Ricky Riccitelli, Gareth Evans and Michael Fatiolofa had the Chiefs on the back foot almost from the first whistle.

It is significant that all four quarter-finals were won by the home side over the weekend; the Hurricanes, Crusaders, Waratahs and Lions progressing.


It's at home where teams tend to play with more passion and commitment and for the Hurricanes that blood-and-thunder approach was crucial; they simply wouldn't have won without it, not withstanding their head-start provided by Chiefs No10 Damian McKenzie, who opened the door for Julian Savea shortly after kick-off.

It goes without saying that theirs is a massive challenge. Should the Crusaders win this one they will play either the Lions or Waratahs; the winner of that semifinal in Johannesburg at a big disadvantage for they have to travel to Christchurch, so for the Crusaders their next match is their biggest. Win it and they'll win the whole thing.

With eight All Blacks in the pack and another two on the reserve bench, and a title-winning coach in Scott Robertson the defending champions will leave nothing to chance.

It goes beyond attitude for the Crusaders, who have lost only two matches all season.

They can play any way – a game based on set piece and defence, or a high-intensity width game. Many would suggest that with Israel Dagg unable to break into the starting lineup, that they are the All Blacks in disguise and it wouldn't be far from the truth.

They should also have a full roster to select from this week and in their quarter-final win against the Sharks they had the luxury of replacing Tim Perry with Wyatt Crockett (Joe Moody should be available for next Saturday), Kieran Read with Pete Samu, and Jordan Taufua with Luke Romano. All three are internationals and all three played like it once they joined the fray in the second half.

The Hurricanes will have to bring a hard edge, but also accuracy and discipline, and the latter two don't always gel with the first.

The strength of this Crusaders team under Robertson is that they are prepared to work so hard for each other. They are the best team in the competition at scrambling on defence to prevent what at first sight would appear to be a certain try and in this they have key midfield operators Ryan Crotty and Jack Goodhue to thank.


Goodhue was a blur of perpetual motion against the Sharks when he disregarded his own safety to fly into tackles against extremely large South African forwards and he, along with No10 Richie Mo'unga, is looming as their most valuable player.

"Jack Goodhue was phenomenal - 14 tackles," Robertson said afterwards. "Just a genuine warrior, he is just so important to us."

The Crusaders are looking good to add title number nine to their collection. For the Highlanders, they will rue the yellow card to Waisake Naholo in the second half of their quarter-final against the Waratahs in Sydney, which coincided with the floodgates opening and a remarkable comeback from the home side.

The Lions, who have appeared in the last two Super Rugby finals, were always hot favourites to beat the Jaguares - in a playoff for the first time - and so it proved. The bookies will suggest there is every chance of a repeat of last year's final between the Crusaders and Lions, but this time in Christchurch.