Crusaders v Lions Saturday 4th August 08.35am BST
The Lions from the South African conference and the Crusaders from the New Zealand conference meet in the Super Rugby final in Christchurchon Saturday, these two sides were the top two in the season long league table and this is a repeat of last year’s final in Johannesburg, won by the Crusaders 25-17 playing against 14 men for much of the game
In their semi final against the Waratahs One of the most impressive things was that they were 14-0 down after 10 minutes and then won the next 70 minutes 44-12 running in six tries.
Of course giving probably the best non-international side in the World the Crusaders a two try lead is something entirely different. Working in their favour in the semi was that they used their own skill and their fitness at altitude to overcome their opponents as they desperately tried to suck in oxygen. Christchurch is not at altitude so they need to start faster as trying to chase down the Crusaders from behind on the scoreboard is something that no team has managed in 2018
The Crusaders dismantled the Hurricanes 30-12 with a dominating forward performance and suffocating defence and brilliant discipline only giving away four penalties in the game and understandably enough, at home, they are strong favourites to win another title, 1/9 outright and -18 on the handicap
The Lions do have some outstanding performers. For example hooker Malcolm Marx and flanker Kwagga Smith are tremendous but what isn’t in their favour is that international fly-half Elton Jantjes is off form and they will need him to improve to stand a chance.
-18 is a big points handicap especially for a final but the Crusaders are a dominant side at home. The Crusaders should win comfortably but we have to take the Lions with an 18 point start at 10/11 with Ladbrokes