The 2018 Super Rugby season will come to a close with the final between the Crusaders and Lions at the AMI Stadium in Christchurch on Saturday, August 4, kick-off at 09h35 CAT.
The Crusaders claimed their place in the final with a comfortable 30-12 home victory over New Zealand rivals the Hurricanes last Saturday. Richie Mo’unga scored 15 points (one try, two conversions, two penalties), while George Bridge, David Havili and Braydon Ennor also racked up five-pointers.
The Christchurch side are looking to win a record-extending ninth Super Rugby title and a second in a row. Coach Scott Robertson has put together a powerful unit which has dominated the competition this year and are the clear favourites for the title.
However, the Crusaders do have some injury worries coming into the game, especially in the hooker position, where they will be reliant on Codie Taylor after Seb Saitaga joined Ben Funnel and Andrew Makailo on the sidelines. All Black flank Jordan Taufua is also out with a broken arm.
The Lions came from 14 points down to defeat the Waratahs 44-26 in their semifinal last Saturday, as tries from Kwagga Smith (two), Aphiwe Dyantyi, Malcolm Marx (two) and Courtnall Skosan were backed up by 14 points from the boot of Elton Jantjies.
The Johannesburg side will be playing in their third successive Super Rugby final and hoping to finally claim their first title, following defeats at the hands of the Hurricanes and Crusaders in the 2016 and 2017 finals respectively.
Coach Swys De Bruin’s side will look to hold set-piece dominance, especially with rain weather predicted for Christchurch, and their rolling maul – which has been so effective throughout the season – will be their main attacking weapon.
In head-to-head stats, the Crusaders and Lions have met in 18 previous matches. The New Zealand side has dominated the rivalry, picking up 14 wins compared to just four for their South African counterparts.
The ‘Saders have won the last two matches between the sides: 25-17 in last season’s final and 14-8 in a league match earlier this year – both in Johannesburg.
Crusaders v Lions – Head-to-Head
Matches played 18
Crusaders wins 14
Lions wins 4