Weekend preview

Is it worth the Lions even being in Wellington? Not if you believe in history, the stats, bookies and Bru’s! Tank Lanning takes a gander at the 2016 Super Rugby final.

And then there were two …

Saturday, August 6

09h35 – Hurricanes v Lions (Westpac Stadium)

Hurricanes: 15 James Marshall, 14 Cory Jane, 13 Matt Proctor, 12 Willis Halaholo, 11 Jason Woodward, 10 Beauden Barrett, 9 TJ Perenara, 8 Victor Vito, 7 Ardie Savea, 6 Brad Shields, 5 Michael Fatialofa, 4 Vaea Fifita, 3 Ben May, 2 Dane Coles (c)/Ricky Riccitelli, 1 Loni Uhila

Bench: 16 Ricky Riccitelli/Leni Apisai, 17 Chris Eves, 18 Mike Kainga/Reggie Goodes, 19 Mark Abbott, 20 Callum Gibbins/Tony Lambourn, 21 Jamison Gibson-Park, 22 Vince Aso, 23 Julian Savea

Lions: 15 Andries Coetzee, 14 Ruan Combrinck, 13 Lionel Mapoe, 12 Rohan Janse van Rensburg, 11 Courtnall Skosan, 10 Elton Jantjies, 9 Faf de Klerk, 8 Warren Whiteley (c), 7 Warwick Tecklenburg, 6 Jaco Kriel, 5 Franco Mostert, 4 Andries Ferreira, 3 Julian Redelinghuys, 2 Malcolm Marx, 1 Dylan Smith

Bench: 16 Armand van der Merwe, 17 Corne Fourie, 18 Jacques van Rooyen, 19 Lourens Erasmus, 20 Ruan Ackermann, 21 Ross Cronje, 22 Howard Mnisi, 23 Jaco van der Walt

Referee: Glen Jackson (New Zealand)

Assistant Referees: Angus Gardner (Australia), Ben O’Keeffe (New Zealand)

TMO: Ben Skeen (New Zealand)

My pick: HURRICANES to beat Lions by 13

The odds: HURRICANES (4/9) to beat Lions (77/29)

The SuperBru Community : HURRICANES to beat Lions by 1

No South African team has ever won a final in Australasia – The Sharks lost to the Blues in 1996, the Brumbies in 2001 and the Chiefs in 2012.

The Canes hammered the Lions 50-17 in Johannesburg in week 10 of this year’s tournament.

Since 2011, the Canes have hosted 8 SA sides at the Cake Tin and lost only once.

By the law of averages, the Lions should thus be primed to sneak a win then?

Not with the dice this loaded I am afraid. It is borderline impossible to travel to a Vodacom Super Rugby final, especially if going long haul like the Lions done, and win it. Of course there is always a chance, and if any side can do it, this incredible bunch of Lions players could, but I would not bet my house on it, or even my public SuperBru prediction J

The Hurricanes are again sweating over the fitness of captain Dane Coles, who will be given until the morning of the game to prove he is over a rib injury.

Best he think long and hard about that, because the one thing you do not want when facing the all-conquering Lions front row of Dylan Smith, Malcolm Marx and Julian Redelinghuys is a rib injury. Especially in the rain given that more errors means more scrums. The Canes have a weak scrum, the Lions have an excellent one. But while the rain is an equalizer in general, come scrum time it can sometimes play into the weaker side’s hands, especially against one that likes to go as low as the Lions like to do. The lack of stud purchase means scrums have to set higher, which plays to the weaker scrum. Referees are also more inclined to see sides getting it in and out in the rain, rather than using it for the right shoulder, or to milk that pesky penalty.

The Hurricanes have Beauden Barrett, the Lions have Elton Jantjies, with the winner of that contest going a long way to deciding the outcome of the game. In the rain, at home, behind a pack perhaps saved by the rain, my money is on Barrett, who has been sublime this year. He carries better, kicks more – and more astutely, and has a better defensive record.

The Canes have also perfect a rush defence lead by Barrett that is second to no other side in the tournament. It is super-fast and has caused all sorts of trauma for teams this season. There are a few ways to counter it, with Rohan Janse van Rensburg powering through a gap off a pop pass perhaps being the Lions best shot, but the other is a dink over the top or a grubber through the legs, something that has not been part of the Lions game plan this year.

You would not be able to knock me over with a feather if the Lions win, and boy would they deserve it, but one bets with the head and supports with the heart right?

Enjoy …

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