2018 Super Rugby Final Preview: Crusaders vs Lions

The 2018 Super Rugby champions will be decided when the Crusaders host the Lions in Christchurch on Saturday evening. This is the second-consecutive season that these two clubs will meet in the final and betting suggests that we are set for a similar result.

The Crusaders have been the competition benchmark once again in 2018 and they are in line for their ninth Super Rugby crown. They are undefeated since Round 5 of the regular season and have opened as the $1.07 favourites to beat the Johannesburg-based club.

The Lions were the clear pick in the South African conference and are deserving of their position in the Super Rugby final. This is their third-consecutive appearance in the decider and while they are yet to break through for their first ever title, they face arguably their biggest test to date in 2018. They remain $8.50 outsiders in Super Rugby betting.

Crusaders

It has been another glittering season for the competition’s most successful club and they will take plenty of confidence into Saturday’s final.

Having made light work of all their rivals after the international break and leading into the finals, the Crusaders hosted the Sharks in the quarterfinals and were barely tested; walking away 40-10 victors.

That result set up a semi-final showdown with Kiwi rivals the Hurricanes last week and as expected, there was plenty of outstanding rugby produced in what was for the most part, a terrific contest. An impressive effort from Ryan Crotty resulting in the game’s first try in the fifteenth minute was cancelled out by a questionable Hurricanes try only minutes later, but the Crusaders continued to heap on the pressure and went into the break on the right end of an 18-7 score line. It was business as usual in the second half as they went on to ice the game and confirm passage through to another decider.

It has been more than two years since the Crusaders have lost at home and it is tough imagining their streak ending here, particularly with so much on the line.

Lions

The Lions have been in great form again in 2018 and are worthy opponents for the Crusaders on Saturday night.

They topped the South African conference with ease and took plenty of confidence into the quarterfinal showdown with the Jaguares; ultimately taking a 40-23 win and confirming a home semi-final with the Waratahs.

The Waratahs match provided the Lions with a serious test and the Australians remained within a try well into the second half, before a card to Damien Fitzpatrick all but confirmed the result. Kwagga Smith led from the front with an outstanding individual performance, but he was ably supported by the likes of Malcolm Marx. A similar result from the captain will be vital in Christchurch, but literally every Lions player is going to need to find their best.

Ultimately the Lions do look a class below the Crusaders and in New Zealand, they are going to need to find another gear if they are any hope of pulling off an upset win.

Super Rugby Betting

The Crusaders are amidst another impressive campaign and should be winning the 2018 Super Rugby title, but there is no value in head-to-head betting with prices as they stand.

The line is currently set at 18.5 and the Lions are certainly good enough to finish within that designation of points.

There is plenty of value to be taken deeper in betting and the Crusaders to cover a smaller line (-9) at the half represents good value.