Semi Final time, yip it’s the business end of the comp with just the table topping Crusaders up against their biggest rivals the Hurricanes, followed by South Africa’s best hope the Lions against the best of Aussie the Waratahs
Personally I feel it is the best of the teams this year and it should be a cracker!!
Preview: Week 68
Crusaders v Hurricanes
Crusaders have played fantastic rugby, they truly deserve to be at home for this epic encounter and are justified favourites to not only win this game, but to take the title for an unprecedented ninth time.
The Hurricanes stand in their way, a team filled with experience, talent and a host of All Blacks. The last time the Canes tasted victory down in Christchurch was just two years ago, when they thumped the Crusaders by twenty five and with Beauden Barrett grabbing a drop over try assisting the Lions in missing out on their first home final.
The last two occasions in Christchurch have seen the Hurricanes fail by eight and eleven points respectfully, this is a knockout game after all and although it is likely that the Crusaders could win this one by more than seven, I just feel it’s a point or two too much. Whilst I do not expect the Hurricanes to win this game, I do feel they have a sniff and I do expect them to come close and the Crusaders to close it out as they have done multiple times this season.
This will be the Crusaders biggest test so far at home, the pressure is definitely on the hosts.
My call here is a marginal one and does not hold the level of confidence I have for the Lions in the later game. Crusaders v Hurricanes is on Saturday, so we have both semis on the same day!!
Call: Hurricanes +7.5 at evens for 1 unit (Bet taken at Keith Ho BetXchange)
Kick off is scheduled for 09h35 GMT +2 on Saturday in Christchurch. The referee for this game will be Jaco Peyper (SA), Click here for the Weather in Christchurch and if you want to follow the game on Twitter click here for the Hashtag #CRUvHUR
Lions v Waratahs
I will start off by saying that the Waratahs have absolutely ZERO chance of winning this one, I may be bold enough to say they have almost no chance of staying within twenty. The Waratahs had an amazing comeback last week, I did call the win, but at HT I felt they were gone, so that part I benefitted, but certainly did not expect.
Waratahs have played fourteen matches in SA since the conference system started and have won only four times, only one of those was a victory in the city of gold, but it was in 2009.
In 2009 the Lions beat the Reds away, the Brumbies at home, lost to all of the SA teams, bar the Cheetahs who finished last, and only won four games, the force thumped them by forty one, they beat the Highlanders by five, who as it happened finished one spot up on the Super Rugby ladder by a solitary point also winning four games. Todd Clever became the first American to play Super Rugby, my eldest son was only six and without too much maths that was nine years ago, the Lions as we know are a different animal to those old days!!
This year the Lions went to Sydney and thrashed the Tahs by twenty nine, last year the Lions had not played any NZ opposition and again pulverised the Waratahs by nineteen. Waratahs are not much better than they were two years ago, if anything the Brumbies have worsened and the Waratahs have played an average season, sure they broke the forty odd losing streak to the kiwi sides, but they are up against it this weekend, in fact they are so far out of their depth they will not know what hit them.
The Lions are at just about full strength, it’s hard not to notice Marx, the No 2 with a strike rate of steals to match any other in history, a captain back to almost his best, a fly-half full of confidence, in fact I am of the opinion that the Lions are peaking at the right time. If the Crusaders win this weekend the Lions will make the long haul trip over to Christchurch and whilst they will be double digit plus outsiders, I feel they may just have a chance.
Sadly the final will not be in Sydney, it has an eighty percent chance of being in Christchurch, but small puntable chance of being in Joburg, if I am correct here and the Lions do in fact murder the Waratahs, and the Canes do the Lions a favour in Christchurch, I would be again bold enough to say that this Lions team will win the trophy at their third attempt.
It’s hard to not say that the Lions deserve to be in the final, sure they lost to the Blues and almost the Sunwolves, but they fixed most of their problems and have the opportunity now. They were again for the third year in a row head and shoulders above any other SA team.
My call is an aggressive play at a reasonable price, just giving back two extra points than last week, but against weaker opposition in my opinion!! This is my #BestBetoftheWeek
Call: Lions -17.5 at 2/1 for 5 units (Bet taken at Keith Ho BetXchange)
Kick off is scheduled for 15h05 GMT +2 on Saturday at Ellis Park. The referee for this game will be Gen Jackson (NZ), Click here for the Weather in Johannesburg and if you want to follow the game on Twitter click here for the Hashtag #LIOvWAR