Hurricanes coach Chris Boyd isn't sugar-coating the size of the task his side face in their Super Rugby semifinal against the Crusaders.

The Southerners have never lost a home semifinal in the 22-year history of the competition, and haven't lost at home since July 2016; or, as a Hurricanes fan might put it, the Crusaders are overdue a loss on their own turf.

Speaking to Radio Sport's D'Arcy Waldegrave, Boyd said his side knew history wasn't on their side for this weekend.

"That's a mountain for us but at the end of the day we've got to accept the challenge of the mountain and go climbing," Boyd said.

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"They're a tough nut to crack at any time, but when they're at full strength, at home, in the playoffs, she's a real tough nut."

The match shapes up with the potential to be the game of the season, with both sides fielding formidable lineups. While many fans anticipate the match up of first five-eighths Beauden Barrett and Richie Mo'unga to be the key, there are a number of areas when the match could be decided.

The midfield battle between Hurricanes duo Ngani Laumape and Jordie Barrett and their counterparts Ryan Crotty and Jack Goodhue could be the difference-maker. The four All Blacks will go head to head in a position where they are likely to be tested for the full 80 minutes.

The Crusaders showed their proficiency in attacking through the midfield in their quarter-final against the Sharks, and the Hurricanes pair will have to be alert on the defensive end. A similar case can be made for Laumape, though. Three weeks removed from a four-try night against the Blues, expect the Hurricanes to give him a fair share of the football.

But it might just be the execution at set pieces, and settling for penalty goals, that decides the match. The Hurricanes have been strong scrummagers all season; if they've fed the scrum, they've come away with the ball. However they have the sixth-worst success rate on their own lineout. The Crusaders have been only slightly better at lineout time, but slightly worse at scrum time.

It will pay for both teams to consider taking the three points when they're on offer. Like all Kiwi derbies, the physicality will jump up a notch and the down time while a shot at goal is taken will provide the players a chance to catch their breath. But it could also make the difference on the score sheet.

The two sides were the best defensively during the regular season. The difference between their average points allowed? Three. The Hurricanes allowed 21 points per game on average to the Crusaders' 18. It shapes up to be a stingy exchange, and points from the tee could decide the fixture.