Thu, Aug 4, 9:50am by Staff Writer
After a long and gruelling season, it now comes down to the Lions and Hurricanes to decide who will be this year’s Super Rugby Champions. Logistical nightmares, debates surrounding the Conference system and the introduction of three new franchises should not detract from the two sides in this Final.
Regardless of outside factors the Lions and the Hurricanes have shown this season that the desire to play attacking rugby will be rewarded with both sides excelling on the counter attack this promises to be a great match.
The Hurricanes managed a feat many failed at this year, defeating the Lions on home soil. A 33-point victory stands them in good stead to secure the Super Rugby title for the first time in their history. It has been nine years since the Lions last recorded a win against the Hurricanes. The form of half backs TJ Perenara and Beauden Barrett means that they stand as heavy favourites with William Hill at $1.35.
Elton Jantjies will be tasked with not only containing Barrett defensively but also out shining him on attack. The South African fly half has excited all season with his particular brand of rugby. He, however, will need his pack to continue their dominance to lay the platform for him to succeed. If the Lions forwards can put Barrett and the Hurricanes on the back foot, then they may well be able to overturn their odds of $3.20.
With the logistics of flying from South Africa to New Zealand taken into account, the Lions could well already be at a severe disadvantage before they take the field. It is likely they could be slow starters as they run of the jet lag and fatigue, meaning the odds on the Hurricanes scoring first are worth a look. William Hill are offering $1.75 for a Hurricanes player wearing numbers 11, 12, 13, 14 or 15 to score first and $2.00 for any other shirt number/ penalty try/ try less match. In contrast the Lions are priced at $1.80 for a player wearing numbers 11, 12, 13, 14 or 15 and $1.95 for any other.
A positive opening period of the match will be crucial in what is likely to be a tense encounter due to exactly what is at stake as both sides look to win their first ever Super Rugby Title. If the Lions score first and win William Hill are offering $5.80 but if they score first and lose the price stands at $3.20. The Hurricanes will be looking to dominant the Lions just as they did their last South African opponents in this year’s finals, the Sharks. To score first and win William Hill are offering $2.10 and to score first and lose stands at $5.90.
With so much on the line in the Final both sides may well struggle to replicate the stunning rugby they have exhibited all season. Yet just a glimpse of magic from Barrett or Jantjies could well be the decider as to whether the trophy stays in New Zealand or makes its way back to South Africa.
Bet of the Match: Hurricanes to Score First and Win at $2.10
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