Cape Town - Sport24's Herman Mostert highlights FIVE talking points after the 2019 Super Rugby semi-finals:
1. Rampant Jaguares make history
Argentina's Jaguares qualified for a maiden Super Rugby final after an impressive 39-7 annihilation of the Brumbies in Buenos Aires.
The Jaguares have been the find of the season, developing from a team that won only four of 15 matches three seasons ago to reaching the title decider.
The manner in which the Brumbies were dispatched was impressive. The men from Canberra had, after all, entered the semi-final on the back of seven straight wins - the most in their storied history.
Apart from struggling at scrum time, the Jaguares dominated in most facets, as reflected in statistics derived post-game.
According to the tournament's official website, the Jaguares dominated the metres made on attack (342m-296m), carries (121-97), defenders beaten (31-6), clean breaks (8-2), passes completed (194-126) and turnovers won (6-4) categories.
The hosts were also flawless in the lineouts (11 from 11), while the Brumbies lost four on their own throw (18 out of 22).
2. Area of concern for Jaguares
As mentioned, one area in which the Jaguares struggled to assert themselves was at scrum time.
Nick Mallet, speaking in the SuperSport studio over the weekend, highlighted this and said New Zealand referee Mike Fraser didn't penalise the Jaguares often enough at scrum time, with the Brumbies often shoving their hosts backwards in this department.
This is where the Jaguares could find the going tough in Saturday's final against the Crusaders in Christchurch.
There they will be up against the all-All Blacks front row of Joe Moodie, Codie Taylor and Owen Franks.
3. Clever chest control from Hurricanes centre
Hurricanes centre Ngani Laumape's 51st minute try not only saw his team come within one point of the Crusaders (20-19), but got pundits talking about the clever manner in which he finished.
It initially appeared as though Laumape had knocked on but the midfielder was adamant he had controlled the ball off his chest and subsequent television replays confirmed as much.
Laumape, who had chased his own kick in behind the Crusaders defence, realised it would have been tough for him to catch the ball, so he opted to control it off his chest before finishing.
It was a perfect example of a player thinking on his feet and definitely something South African players should take note of...
4. Subtle cheating from All Black lock costs Hurricanes dearly
A major talking point from the game in Christchurch, which the Crusaders won 30-26, came when the home side's captain and lock Sam Whitelock knocked the ball out of Hurricanes scrumhalf TJ Perenara's hands.
With time running out and the 'Canes hot on the attack, referee Nic Berry deemed that Perenara had knocked the ball on.
The All Black scrumhalf was furious and television cameras afterwards showed Whitelock had dislodged the ball from his grasp.
It should have been a penalty and yellow card against Whitelock and it is this kind of subtle cheating from the All Blacks that referees need to be on the lookout for, especially in a World Cup year…
Game in the balance.— Runningflyhalf (@Runningflyhalf) June 29, 2019
Impossible for the on-field ref to see everything.
TMO would have seen this on the replay.
Absolutely crazy that the TMO isn’t allowed or supposed to tell the on-field ref to correct the call. pic.twitter.com/Z0G7PGW49U
5. Flyhalf conundrum for All Blacks coach
After watching the Crusaders v Hurricanes semi-final, All Blacks coach Steve Hansen will not be much wiser as to who the best flyhalf in New Zealand rugby is.
Beauden Barrett and Richie Mo'unga were both outstanding in Christchurch on Saturday, with their overall game management and skills level setting them ahead of the rest.
Barrett is the All Blacks' first-choice pivot and I reckon Hansen will keep it that way.
However, as one commentator mentioned, Mo'unga could be a valuable substitute late in the game with Barrett moving to fullback where he is equally capable...