JavaScript disabled. Please enable JavaScript to use My News, My Clippings, My Comments and user settings.

If you have trouble accessing our login form below, you can go to our login page.

If you have trouble accessing our login form below, you can go to our login page.

Clash of five-eighth styles could decide Super Rugby semi spot

Date

Nick Mulvenney

Aaron Cruden is a slender goal-kicking pivot who dictates play from the hand or boot.

Aaron Cruden is a slender goal-kicking pivot who dictates play from the hand or boot. Photo: Getty Images

Aaron Cruden and Matt Toomua bring contrasting styles to rugby's most influential position and the battle between the classic five-eighth and the modern midfield manager could decide Saturday's Super Rugby play-off in Canberra.

Cruden at the Chiefs and Toomua at the Brumbies have played key roles in rescuing their teams from setbacks, dragging them into the first-round of the play-offs for a rerun of last year's final.

A classic No.10, Cruden is a slender goal-kicking pivot who dictates play from the hand or boot and can carve his way through a fissure in the defensive line in the blink of an eye.

The beefier Toomua is an archetypical modern Australian playmaker, equally happy at five-eighth or as a hard-tackling inside-centre, and more likely to offload the ball to dangerous attacking players than make breaks himself.

Not that Toomua can't take matters into his own hands, as he showed with his hat-trick of tries in the 47-25 rout of the Force last weekend, which secured the Brumbies home advantage for Saturday's clash.

It was a rampant display against a previously miserly defence. It will give rugby fans in Australia's capital hopes the Brumbies can avenge the 27-22 defeat in Hamilton last year that gave the Chiefs a second successive title.

Cruden's most notable contribution of the season so far has probably been for the All Blacks, with his quickly taken penalty leading to the late try which killed off England's challenge in the first test of the June series.

Having struggled with the disruption of a broken thumb early in the Super Rugby season, Cruden improved as the series went on and returned from international duty to lead the Chiefs to wins in their last two games, which got them into the play-offs.

The fractured digit meant he missed the 41-23 defeat the Chiefs suffered in Canberra in April – halfback Tawera Kerr-Barlow was also absent – and the Chiefs will be a different proposition with their best halfbacks in tandem.

The prize on the line on Saturday is most likely to be a three-hour trip up the Hume Highway to face the Waratahs in a Sydney semi-final – a prospect far more intimidating now than it has been for a good few years.

Toomua was injured for the Brumbies' 39-8 loss to the Waratahs at the end of June, and he would surely relish the chance to face them again, if only to press his claim to retain the Wallabies No.12 shirt from the in-form Kurtley Beale.

He admits Cruden has had the "wood" over him in previous meetings. The All Blacks prevailed when they faced each other at five-eighth in the Rugby Championship two weeks after last year's Super Rugby final.

In at least one department, Cruden is bound to have more influence on Saturday's game – good or bad – than Toomua.

The 25-year-old, who has a 68 per cent success rate from the tee this season, will take on goal-kicking duties for the Chiefs. Toomua is behind Christian Lealiifano, Nic White and Jesse Mogg in the list of preferred goalkickers.

Reuters

Rugby Internationals 2014

Round 1
Sat, 07 JunTimes shown AEST
SAM 18 vs TGA 18 Report Stats
FJI 25 vs ITA 14 Report Stats
NZL 20 vs ENG 15 Report Stats
AUS 50 vs FRA 23 Report Stats
Sun, 08 JunTimes shown AEST
RSA 47 vs WXV 13 Report Stats
ARG 17 vs IRE 29 Report Stats
USA 6 vs SCO 24 Report Stats
CAN 25 vs JPN 34 Report Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 2
Sat, 14 JunTimes shown AEST
SAM 15 vs ITA Report Stats
FJI 45 vs TGA 17 Report Stats
NZL 28 vs ENG 27 Report Stats
AUS 6 vs FRA Report Stats
Sun, 15 JunTimes shown AEST
RSA 38 vs WAL 16 Report Stats
CAN 17 vs SCO 19 Report Stats
ARG 17 vs IRE 23 Report Stats
USA 29 vs JPN 37 Report Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 3
Sat, 21 JunTimes shown AEST
ARG 19 vs SCO 21 Report Stats
FJI 13 vs SAM 18 Report Stats
JPN 26 vs ITA 23 Report Stats
AUS 39 vs FRA 13 Stats
NZL 36 vs ENG 13 Report Stats
Sun, 22 JunTimes shown AEST
RSA 31 vs WAL 30 Report Stats
USA 38 vs CAN 35 Report Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 4
Sun, 29 JunTimes shown AEST
RSA 55 vs SCO 6 Report Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 5
Sun, 02 NovTimes shown AEDT
BAR 36 vs AUS 40 Report Stats
USA 6 vs NZL 74 Report Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 6
Sun, 09 NovTimes shown AEDT
ITA 24 vs SAM 13 Report Stats
ENG 21 vs NZL 24 Report Stats
WAL 28 vs AUS 33 Report Stats
FRA 40 vs FJI 14 Report Stats
IRE 29 vs RSA 15 Report Stats
SCO 41 vs ARG 31 Report Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 7
Sun, 16 NovTimes shown AEDT
ITA 18 vs ARG 20 Report Stats
ENG 28 vs RSA 31 Report Stats
WAL 17 vs FJI 13 Report Stats
SCO 16 vs NZL 24 Report Stats
FRA 29 vs AUS 26 Report Stats
Mon, 17 NovTimes shown AEDT
IRE 49 vs GEO 7 Report Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 8
Sun, 23 NovTimes shown AEDT
ITA 6 vs RSA 22 Report Stats
SCO 37 vs TGA 12 Report Stats
IRE 26 vs AUS 23 Report Stats
WAL 16 vs NZL 34 Report Stats
ENG 28 vs SAM 9 Report Stats
FRA 13 vs ARG 18 Report Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 9
Sun, 30 NovTimes shown AEDT
ENG 26 vs AUS 17 Report Stats
WAL 12 vs RSA 6 Report Stats
View All Fixtures
 
Featured advertisers