Preview: Super Rugby Final 2018
Its finally here, over one hundred games and we are down to the final two, Crusaders v Lions, Saturday in Christchurch, will it be three times lucky for the Lions? Or will it be title No nine for the Crusaders the most successful Super rugby team since inception?
Whichever team you support it should be a cracker, don’t read anything into the negative hype about the Lions having absolutely no chance, sure the odds are stacked up against them, but there is a price and that is, if anything, an indication that anything can happen.
It will be a momentous win if the Lions can pull it off, huge under anyone’s barometer of what huge should be!!
Crusaders v Lions (Week 69)
We can report that there are doubts about Ryan Crotty News24 report that Mr Crotty has a question mark over his readiness thanks to a couple of HIA meetings, and there is no doubt about Jordan Taufua after Mr Taufua broke his arm in the largely one-sided Semi Final v Hurricanes.
Crusaders have won the title no less than eight times, they have a team littered with stars, All Blacks a plenty, Richie Mo’unga, likely to take over from Beauden Barrett come the Rugby Championships later this month, or at least Oracle Rugby thinks so, his pace is electric, and he has the power to turn this fixture firmly in the hands of the Crusaders.
The weather is also on the Crusaders side, the sun won’t be shining, it will be wet, it will be dark and there will not be many Lions fans in the crowd, Christchurch is truly unfamiliar territory for the Lions. The last couple of times the Lions have gone to Christchurch have been few and far between, in 2014 they lost 34 – 6 and did not dot down once, losing four zip in the try count. In 2010 the Lions scored a solitary try but lost by twenty seven, a point better than their 2010 attempt.
There is no secret that Crusaderland is a fortress, the Crusaders have won twenty times when playing a playoff and are unbeaten at home this season. Lions can hold onto the fact that they have been impressive v NZ opposition in the last three years, they have only won twice in NZ in that time, and that was in 2016, last year they did not go to New Zealand, this year they played two games and got beaten reasonably comfortably.
The Lions largely left in the wilderness of Super Rugby’s have beens, relegated, in fact one of only two teams to have been relegated and return, the other being the Kings, who eventually joined the Pro 14. Lions have gone from zero to hero in a couple of years, 2012 they were relegated, 2013 they did not play, 2014 and 2015 they started their upward trend.
In 2016 after winning South Africa’s Currie Cup in 2015 they played an unbelievable season, winning more games than they had before, reaching the Final in Wellington v Hurricanes who played better in the conditions and played against a Lions team that had no experience at this level, they scored a solitary three pointer and lost by seventeen.
A year later the Lions found themselves in the Final again, this time at home, this time against the seven time champions the Crusaders, their opponents this week. For much of the first thirty, they were behind the eight ball, nothing went their way and then Kwagga Smith did a stupid thing, he tackled David Havilli in a dangerous way and fully deserved the Red Card. The rest is history and although the Lions played well late on, it was not enough and the Crusaders got their eighth title and we got to see Scott ‘Razor’ Robertson do his famous breakdance.
Here we are twelve months later, the same contenders in the same final, albeit 11,500km away in the land of the long white cloud. Few have given the men form the City of Gold any chance, I am not one of them, the Lions have the pack, and anyone who has played rugby or watched rugby for some time will know that no matter how good your backline is, you will never win the big games without a decent forward pack. The Lions pack is so good that guys like Marx are being hailed as the best around at the moment, Kwagga Smith is being used in sentences that contain the word ‘Fearless’, sure he is small, but he cares little about his body and that is the kind of commitment a team needs to get over the line.
The backline is no joke either, Aphiwe Dyanti has showed us a master class in individual try scoring, he got a hat-trick v Stormers a while back and scored arguably one of the tries of the tournament last week v Waratahs, Kyle Brink is also back, so from an injury point of view the Lions are at full strength.
I reckon I covered all that I can think of, and all that matters, the rest will be up to the two teams, on my video I encourage all those nay-sayers, those that believe the Lions have ZERO chance, I encourage them to borrow money and empty out their savings, I certainly will not, but if they are so cock sure of a Crusaders victory, I say show me the money, or in plain English: PUT YOUR MONEY DOWN OR QUIETEN DOWN.
Kick off is scheduled for 09h35 GMT +2 on Saturday in Christchurch. The referee for this game will be Angus Gardner (AUS), Click here for the Weather in Christchurch and if you want to follow the game on Twitter click here for the Hashtag #CRUvLIO
If you are one of those that believes that the Crusaders WILL win and that there is no doubt here are some prices for you:
- Crusaders to win in 80 mins at 1/10 available at SportingBet & Morris Vee
- Crusaders -17.5 at 52/50 available at Pinnacle
If you are like me and believe that the Lions do have a chance, they can be backed at the following prices:
- Lions to win in 80 mins at 8/1 available at Keith Ho BetXchange
- Lions +18.5 at 9/10 available at Hollywood Bets
Or you can follow the Oracle with his call, this week I have gone with a bit of value, I just cannot see this Lions team being beaten by more than ten points, the Crusaders should win, but I honestly reckon it will be close, I would love them to win and I may even take some 10/1 if it becomes available on Friday or Saturday, but in the meantime my call is a decent double digit handicap at a shade under 2/1, a price I have now won two weeks in a row, there is a big chance in my opinion that it will arrive again this week, at just seven points under the nine to ten line with value of nine points I will take it.
Call: Lions +10.5 at 1.94 for 5 units (Bet taken at BetWay)