In the end, it went according to script. The Crusaders were indeed too good, too well-drilled, too relentless on their way to securing an incredible ninth Super Rugby title, beating the Lions for the second straight season in the decider.
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Lions vs Stormers
Super Rugby, 8 April, 2018
|Emirates Airlines Park|
|Fulltime - Lions 52, Stormers 31|
|Referee: Jaco Peyper|
|Touch judges: Rasta Rasivhenge & AJ Jacobs|
|TMO: Willie Vos|
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The Lions will aim to arrest their form slide at the top of the South African Super Rugby conference when they take on the inconsistent Stormers. Join The Roar for live scores from 1:15am (AEST).
While the Lions are the best team so far this season in the South African conference and appear to be almost unbeatable at home, they haven’t been dominant in the true sense of the word.
The conference has been a closely run thing, with the Lions currently having four wins of their first seven games for the season. That, by no means, screams the best team competition-wise with the Hurricanes, Crusaders and indeed Victorian line up the Rebels all starting the 2018 season strongly.
Still, being top of the conference as the season approaches the halfway stage is a great place to be, and it’s certainly better to try and improve from in front of the competition than behind it.
The Lions started the season strongly, but they have lost three of their last four and the pressure is starting to build on the Johannesburg based outfit.
Their defence is a major concern with the Jaguares running up 49 points on them a fortnight ago. A lower-scoring game last week saw them lose at home to the Crusaders, and they badly need to pick up a win and restore some confidence here.
Playing the Stormers will give them a solid opportunity to do so, but the Lions have plenty of work to do.
The Stormers are in marginally better form than the Lions at any rate, their defence seems to be operating better, despite conceding 33 points to the Bulls last week. Before that, they picked up a win over the Reds away from home to keep them in the middle of the South African conference.
It means the squad from Cape Town have won two of their last three, giving them three from four for the season. While a difference in bonus points means they can’t completely close the gap to the Lions here, they certainly can continue to mount the pressure on their rivals.
The Lions form hasn’t been splendid, but they are normally a strong side at home and have to turn it around at some point. Doing that against the Stormers seems like just about the perfect time to do so.
Lions by 5.
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