Hurricanes stare down red-hot Crusaders

Hurricanes winger Julian Savea is tackled during the side's last meeting with the Crusaders....
Hurricanes winger Julian Savea is tackled during the side's last meeting with the Crusaders. Photo: Getty Images
The Hurricanes concede it's unrealistic to rely on defence to topple proven Super Rugby playoff kingpins the Crusaders in Saturday's semifinal.

Two years ago the Wellington-based side stormed to a maiden title on the back of a stingy defence, keeping their tryline untouched through all three knockout matches.

That won't happen this time, having leaked four tries in their 32-31 quarterfinal win over the Chiefs.

Coach Chris Boyd has an array of attacking talent at his disposal, conducted by All Blacks five-eighth Beauden Barrett, and expects they'll need to fire against the competition-leading Crusaders defence.

"I think it would be naive for us to think that we can keep all sides to zero every week," Boyd said.

"If they score 30, we need to score 31. It'll come down to opportunities I think."

History suggests his team face an enormous task to unseat the top qualifiers, who are on a 13-match winning run.

The eight-time champion Crusaders are unbeaten in 19 knockout games in Christchurch.

A pack laced with All Blacks has strangled the Hurricanes the last two times they've visited AMI Stadium.

Both of those games were in wet conditions.

Boyd will be relieved a dry night is forecast, improving the odds of the open game he needs to unlock the hosts.

"They're not playing-through champions and winners of the round-robin for any other reason than that they're a bloody good side," he said.

"So they don't have any obvious weaknesses, but there'll be opportunities if we can apply pressure for periods of time."

The game is potentially the last for Boyd and two of his accomplished Hurricanes players, Brad Shields and Julian Savea. All three leave soon to link with English Premiership clubs.

Ageless Crusaders prop Wyatt Crockett could bid farewell to his supporters from the grandstand.

The record 202-game Super Rugby veteran has missed selection following the return to fitness of All Black Joe Moody.

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