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. 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!!
Normally I go plus when to NZ teams go head to head, but this week I feel the right way to go is with the winning habit team, winning as they say is a habit. Hurricanes have only won one of their last four, against the Blues, and we know how crap they are, the Chiefs on the other hand have won three of their last four including an outsider win v the Canes. I will not play around here, the value is undoubtedly with the visitors and that is where I will go with a reasonable amount of confidence.
Although they lost they showed that any team can go over the ocean and win, come back and win. The way I see it, if the Crusaders win this week they may well have another NZ team in the Chiefs or Hurricanes the following week. Then they will play the Lions. So from a mathematical point of view I see this:. Anyway back to the game, so the Crusaders are priced up at a ridiculous The Bulls lost by nineteen and the Sharks are way better than the Bulls, and are way better at traveling.
Sure the Hurricanes smashed them two years in a row, but this Sharks team has performed above expectations v NZ opposition this year. That is indeed where my money will go this year. Waratahs v Highlanders was my big play a while ago, the Waratahs could not get up and allowed the Highlanders to dictate matters. Waratahs have been dished a home game against a team I liked pre-tournament, not sure why, but the last three weeks the Highlanders have played rubbish rugby.
They have lost two of their last three and almost got embarrassed last week against an equally rubbish Rebels outfit. Four weeks ago they smashed the Hurricanes but when they arrived in Fiji they got done properly and their run ended. Waratahs in my opinion will not make the same mistake as their Aussie counterparts the Brumbies who have not gone further in two attempts, in fact the very same Highlanders and Hurricanes sorted that out. Waratahs this year are better than the Brumbies have been in the last two years and now that they have a real chance at an unlikely semi-final, they will give it horns.
If the Waratahs win this they are off to Joburg, or if they are extremely lucky they may be back home for a Semi, but that is unlikely! South Africa is a different animal to the Jags and they have shown that multiple times, something does not work here, it will be their third week in a row here and unfortunately it will be their third loss in a row.
The Sharks beat this team in the rain by 10, the Bulls as rubbish as they are beat them by 7, ok fourteen if you ignore the siren score, but seriously, there is no evidence that I can quote that suggests that this match will be anything but distant. Only a brave man would bet against the Lions here, I will not be one of them, this is a big call for me and at a great value price. I have ignored the nine to ten handicap and rather gone for a rather bold play.
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Follow Hutch on Twitter: However, being home may well give them the edge, but they must start fast with early points. Agree that the Crusaders will expect to put this game to bed. I too reckon that the Highlanders will just about do it. The Lions, with home advantage, should prevail, although it may be a rougher ride than expected.
The Roar has mixed predictions for the semis, but surely it must go with home advantage? Notify me of followup comments via e-mail. You can also subscribe without commenting.