Despite the convoluted Super Rugby format we’ve had to endure this season, the silver lining is that the two best teams made it to the end, and it’s going to be an interesting and highly-competitive affair when the Lions host the Crusaders at Ellis Park on Saturday.
Both sides have suffered only one defeat throughout the course of the season, with the Lions falling to the Jaguares on tour and the Crusaders taking a knock at the hands of the Hurricanes, who the Lions dealt with swiftly last week in Joburg.
The Lions have opted to remain unchanged from the team that toppled the defending champions last week, and why fix what isn’t broken? The Lions pack and backline were in superb form and showed they have the mental mettle to fight back from any deficit.
The Crusaders have also decided for an unchanged side from the one that eliminated the Highlanders last week, with inspirational captain Kieran Read overcoming his injury niggle from the semi-final encounter, so expect him to play a massive role in the final.
Both teams are quite equally matched in terms of playstyle with all-round strong forward and backline potency, but one can’t help to think that things fall in favour of the Lions. A home crowd, altitude, missing out on last year’s trophy, and the departing Ackermann will all be fuel for the Lions’ fire that should edge them the win.
Lions – 15 Andries Coetzee, 14 Ruan Combrinck, 13 Lionel Mapoe, 12 Harold Vorster, 11 Courtnall Skosan, 10 Elton Jantjies, 9 Ross Cronjé, 8 Ruan Ackermann, 7 Kwagga Smith, 6 Jaco Kriel (c), 5 Franco Mostert, 4 Andries Ferreira, 3 Ruan Dreyer, 2 Malcolm Marx, 1 Jacques van Rooyen.
Subs: 16 Akker van der Merwe, 17 Corné Fourie, 18 Johannes Jonker, 19 Lourens Erasmus, 20 Cyle Brink, 21 Faf de Klerk, 22 Rohan Janse van Rensburg, 23 Sylvian Mahuza.
Crusaders – 15 David Havili, 14 Israel Dagg, 13 Jack Goodhue, 12 Ryan Crotty, 11 Seta Tamanivalu, 10 Richie Mo’unga, 9 Bryn Hall, 8 Kieran Read, 7 Matt Todd, 6 Jordan Taufua, 5 Sam Whitelock (c), 4 Scott Barrett, 3 Owen Franks, 2 Codie Taylor, 1 Joe Moody.
Subs: 16 Ben Funnell, 17 Wyatt Crockett, 18 Michael Alaalatoa, 19 Luke Romano, 19 Pete Samu, 20 Mitchell Drummond, 21 Mitchell Hunt, 23 George Bridge
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