Big matches are always about the battles within the war, and Saturday’s Super Rugby semifinal between the Lions and the Hurricanes presents no shortage of mouth-watering duels.
The flyhalves more often than determine the course of these knockout fixtures. Both the Lions and the Hurricanes possess international No. 10s who are enjoying a top season for their respective teams.
KweséESPN takes a closer look at the Lions’ Elton Jantjies and his Hurricanes counterpart Beauden Barrett ahead of their shootout at Ellis Park on Saturday.
The Springbok flyhalf is not the sort of player who is going to sit back in the pocket and hoof the ball up field. Jantjies likes to take the ball flat, attack the advantage line and bring his outside backs into the game. He is also wonderful distributor of the ball and an essential cog in the Lions attacking game. However, Jantjies’ attacking kicks aren’t always accurate enough.
Barrett, who has also played fullback for the All Blacks, has tremendous pace and regularly breaks the line. Barrett has this unique ability to spot space, and more often than not exploits it because he keeps defenders guessing when he attacks the line. But Barrett is probably the best attacking kicker in the world, as his little ‘pass kicks’ are almost as accurate as Jordan Spieth’s wedge shots.
Beauden Barrett has the ball on a string with the Hurricanes this season. Kerry Marshall/Getty Images
While Barrett’s attacking kicks are as good as it gets, his goalkicking is pretty average and not up to standard for an international flyhalf. In fact, his goalkicking may have cost the All Blacks victory against the British and Irish Lions in the series decider in Auckland. Tactically, though, Barrett is top operator. His vision makes him a good asset in a territorial battle.
Like Barrett, Jantjies’ goalkicking is quite erratic. The flyhalf with the flashy haircut and an arm full of tattoos almost cost his team victory in the quarter-final against the Sharks when he missed a few easy kicks. This is in stark contrast to the June international series against the French, when he only missed two kicks across three Test matches. DECISION MAKING
Jantjies is a wonderfully, creative footballer, but sometimes he tends to force things and lacks a bit of patience on attack. But generally he makes fantastic decisions in a Lions team where he is allowed to express himself on the park. He is one of the key reasons why the Johannesburg outfit have been the best South African side over the last few years.
Barrett is undoubtedly the best flyhalf in the world, because of his amazing vision and confidence to execute under pressure. Whether it be for the Hurricanes or the All Blacks, Barrett knows how to dictate a rugby game with his running game or with the boot. Like all great footballers, he has a lot of time on the ball. Barrett doesn’t gamble on a rugby field, the magic just seems to come naturally for the Hurricanes man.
Source Article from http://www.espn.co.uk/rugby/story/_/id/20161462/jantjies-barrett-battle-key-semifinal-war-ellis-park
Jantjies, Barrett take centre stage
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