Super-duper Rugby final spectacle awaits

The weather, the rosters and the pre-match banter all point to the same thing.

The 20th Super Rugby final between the Hurricanes and Highlanders will be a spectacle worthy of a season in which attacking rugby has held sway.

Two franchises long regarded as under-performers will square off for a maiden title, with the winners to be crowned the competition’s eighth champion and the fourth from New Zealand.

No final has featured teams who have scored as many points as the Highlanders (509) and Hurricanes (487).

Both haven’t just beaten opponents in the last month, they’ve run them ragged, playing the high-octane style seemingly required in 2015.

Conservative rugby has struggled for traction so neither team sees a reason to change in Wellington on Saturday.

What’s more, icy temperature and rain in the capital on Friday is scheduled to clear.

Hurricanes coach Chris Boyd says they won’t make the mistakes of other teams who have assumed they can rein in the Highlanders’ unique style.

“They’ve got a fair old box of tricks on attack, so I’d be surprised if you don’t see something a little bit zany from them at some stage,” he said.

While Boyd’s Hurricanes packed too much power and speed for a wary Brumbies in last weekend’s 29-9 semi-final triumph, Highlanders counterpart Jamie Joseph masterminded a 35-17 heist against the NSW Waratahs in Sydney.

Having devised a kick-heavy approach to upset the rhythm of the defending champions, Joseph and assistant Tony Brown are promising more party tricks against the top-qualifiers.

“There will be a few surprises, we will try to do that. Brownie is really good at that,” a smiling Joseph said.

Two backlines bristling with match-winners will provide the fireworks.

Departing midfield backs Ma’a Nonu and Conrad Smith are the brains trust outside gifted playmaker Beauden Barrett while wingers Julian Savea and Nehe Milner-Skudder have beaten defenders for fun all season.

Halfback Aaron Smith is the heartbeat of the Highlanders attack but there are serious strike weapons further out in Ben Smith, Waisake Naholo and Malakai Fekitoa.

History favours the Hurricanes.

The home side has won the last seven finals and 16 out of 19 in total.

Their 15 wins from 17 games this season is a Super Rugby record and they are laden with All Blacks.

That contrasts with a Highlanders side who thrive on battling the underdog status.

Their most capped international is reserve halfback Fumiaki Tanaka with 44 Tests for Japan.

However, Boyd says the visitors don’t have a mortgage on togetherness, pointing to the appearance of Hurricanes players who thanked and fed hundreds of fans braving freezing weather to queue for match tickets this week.

“None of them were forced to do that,” Boyd said.

“They paid for the pizzas themselves so that tells you something. They’re keen to give back to the community that’s got in behind and supported them.”

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