Fri, Aug 3, 9:03am by Staff Writer
Date and Time: Saturday August 4, 5:35pm AEST
Venue: AMI Stadium, Christchurch
TV: Fox Sports
The 2018 Super Rugby Grand Final takes place on Saturday night in Christchurch when the Crusaders host the Lions at AMI Stadium.
In a repeat of the 2017 Grand Final, the Crusaders will be aiming to win their ninth Super Rugby crown and are by far the most dominant team in the history of Southern Hemisphere rugby.
The Crusaders are short priced favourites to win the match at $1.08 at Sportsbet, with the Lions paying $8.50.
The opening handicap for the match was 20.5-points but has shortened to 18.5-points and is paying $1.91.
The Crusaders had a blistering regular season, winning 14 matches and losing only two. Both of those losses came on the road to the Hurricanes and Highlanders.
Their two finals matches have produced dominant home finals against the Sharks by 30 points and the Hurricanes by 18 points.
The Crusaders have never lost a home final in their history, which is perhaps the most damning statistic of all when considering the Lions chances of an upset win on Saturday night.
The Lions finished the season in second position in the overall standings, with a 9-7 win-loss mark and topped the South African conference.
The Lions’ only win against the Crusaders was in 2001 when they defeated Canterbury 32-31 at the now defunct Jade Stadium.
The visitors touched down in Christchurch on Wednesday morning, opting against flying out immediately after their semi-final win against the Waratahs.
This is a strategy the side used successfully earlier this season when they flew into Sydney on Wednesday and then defeated the Tahs 29-0 on the Saturday.
The Lions previous trip to New Zealand this season netted two losses. The first a 28-19 loss to the Hurricanes in Wellington, followed by a 12-point loss to the Highlanders in Otago.
The last meeting between the two teams was in round seven this season in Johannesburg.
In a low scoring match, the Crusaders prevailed 14-8. Two tries in four minutes early in the second half were key in the victory.
In last year’s Grand Final in Johannesburg, a Kwagga Smith red card late in the first half cruelled any chance the Lions had of victory and they lost 25-17.
The Crusaders have come into their own in the second half of the season and will be tough to stop at home in front of a bumper crowd.
The Lions have been a hit-or-miss prospect during games this season, with their slow starts or poor finishes costing them numerous times.
Given the manner in which the Crusaders dispatched of a very good Hurricanes outfit, it is hard to see them losing this match.
Best bet- Crusaders to cover 18.5-point handicap at $1.91
Super Rugby Grand Final Odds – Sportsbet
Crusaders $1.08 v Lions $8.50
Handicap: Crusaders -18.5 $1.91
Margin: Crusaders 1-12 $3.75 Crusaders 13+ $1.45
Lions 1-12 $9.50, Lions 13+ $26
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