Lions v Crusaders
Sunday 12:00am at Emirates Park
Then there were 2. After two blockbuster semi finals last weekend the stage is set for an instant classic with the two most impressive teams throughout season 2017 progressing to the Super Rugby Final.
The Lions from Johannesburg will be searching for their first ever Super Rugby title when they host Super Rugby’s most successful ever team, the Crusaders of Christchurch at a sold-out Emirates Airlines Park.
Both sides are predicted to name unchanged line-ups, this unfortunately will mean no Warren Whiteley for the home side after the inspirational Springbok captain was ruled out early in the week with a pelvic injury.
Stats that matters
– No team has won a Super Rugby final outside their own country since the Crusaders knocked off the Brumbies in the year 2000.
– Of the last eleven Super Rugby Finals 8 Games have been won by 8 points or fewer. The Wolf doesn’t expect the 2017 final to be any different and is predicting a nail-biter in Jo’burg.
– Only once in Super Rugby history has a team made the finals in consecutive years and lost both of them. The Lions fans will have their fingers crossed that stat does not change in 2017.
Last time they met
23/7/2016: Lions 42–25 Crusaders
Kieran Read vs Ruan Ackermann: With Springbok captain Warren Whiteley ruled out over the last month with injury Lions coach Johann Ackermann’s eldest son Ruan has been thrust into Whiteley’s big shoes. The 21 year old has performed admirably from the back of the scrum but will be need to be at the top of his game come Sunday morning (AEST) when he fronts up to perhaps the greatest number 8 of all time in Kieran Read. After missing the first half of the season the All Blacks skipper’s skippers form has risen slowly and the wolf expects he will use ever ounce of big game experience at Ellis Park to produce an all around masterclass.
Both sides dominated the 2017 season winning 14 of their 15 regular season games before blitzing their quarter and semi-finals at home. The Crusaders will be ruing letting the last regular season game against the Hurricanes slip through their fingers, subsequently costing them a home final. The Lions were fortunate to not have to face a single New Zealand side in the regular season and were consequently taken by surprise early on against the Hurricanes last week at home. They were able to weather the storm and on the back of some brilliance from Elton Jantijes turned around a 22-3 halftime deficit to send the defending champions packing. The Crusaders were clinical in the execution last week against the Chiefs at home and ran out deserved winners in front of their passionate home supporters.
How it’s shaping
What a final we are set for. Two attacking team who have more than proven themselves in 2017, on a fast track in Jo’burg, in a winner takes all battle. The Wolf could not be more excited! For the record The Wolf feels the travel factor will have a big say in deciding the game, and therefore the 2017 Super Rugby champions. The Crusaders have to overcome a 16 hour flight mid week flight from Christchurch to Johannesburg, thus the Wolf feels they won’t have the stamina to keep up the power and pace this Lions side possesses. The change from a neutral referee to a South African one will also help the hosts along with the kick off being at 2am New Zealand time. All the cards have been dealt to the Lions and they will make it count.
Lions by 1
Best Bet:Over 53.5 points ($1.87)
Value bet: Lions 1-12 ($3.10)
Super Rugby BuildABet
Lions to convert all TRIES at 100% ($1.90)
Crusaders to convert all TRIES at 100% ($1.90)
Lions HT/NT, over 53.5 total points ($5.00)
Lions 1st try & lead by 6+ pts HT & win by 13+ pts ($6.50)
Crusaders 1st scoring play Pen Goal, Crusaders lead by 3+ HT, Lions win by 1-12 pts ($12.00)
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