Date published: August 3 2018
With Super Rugby reaching the showpiece event, we take a look at the best bets from the Crusaders v Lions encounter in Christchurch on Saturday.
Crusaders v Lions
According to the overall table, the two best sides have reached the showpiece event, but most are quite rightly struggling to see how the South Africans can win this one.
To their credit, Swys de Bruin’s men have improved after a poor mid-season run put their place at the top of the South African conference under threat. The Jaguares pressurised the Johannesburg outfit until a late surge saw the Lions finish at the summit of the division.
Having duly emerged with comfortable victories in the knockout rounds over the Argentinians and the Waratahs, it has almost justified what most believe is a farcical system.
Before the play-offs, you would have queried the Lions being seeded second, and thus giving them an easier route to the final, but they have proved themselves in the knockout stages. While one half of the draw placed the Crusaders, Hurricanes and Chiefs on the same side, the latter two appeared a step below the defending champions and their opponents in the final.
With the ‘Canes and Chiefs struggling up front, De Bruin’s charges would have backed themselves to overcome those former winners of the competition. The issue for this weekend’s visitors comes with the fact that Scott Robertson’s outfit are arguably one of the best Super Rugby teams ever.
In the pack, they have an international front five while number eight Kieran Read is a great of the game. Behind the scrum, they are also fearsome. Although Ryan Crotty is the only regular All Black in the backline, Richie Mo’unga, Jack Goodhue and David Havili could conceivably force their way into the XV over the next couple of years.
Their 1/9 price at Black Type is therefore justified, although Ladbrokes are offering odds as short as 1/20. It is going to be a mammoth task for the Lions and they are 9/1 with Ladbrokes and Coral to claim their first ever title.
The South Africans will certainly need to start better too, having fallen behind to both the Jags and ‘Tahs in the knockout games. With that in mind, the outstanding Crusaders finisher George Bridge is favourite to touch down first in the contest at 7/1 with Betfair, while Seta Tamanivalu is 10/1 (Sky Bet). Should the visitors open proceedings better than previously then wings Courtnall Skosan and Ruan Combrinck are 22s at Spreadex.
Despite their issues in the early stages of matches, the Lions grew into the contests and they were excellent in the second half against the Waratahs. For them to be losing at the break and then win the title, it is a tempting 33/1 at BetVictor, but you get the feeling that the visitors will have to be leading at the interval if they are to defeat the Crusaders.