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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Stormers vs Lions
Super Rugby, 27 May, 2018
|Fulltime - Stormers 23, Lions 26|
|Referee: Nick Briant|
|Touch judges: Quinton Immelman & Stephan Geldenhuys|
|TMO: Christian du Preez|
The Stormers are virtually in a must-win situation in every game from now until the end of the Super Rugby season, but that task is a monumental one as they take on the Lions, who can move one step closer to the finals. Join The Roar for live scores from 1:15am (AEST).
It’s been a rough season for the Stormers, but even now, with just three games left to play, they are a chance – an outside one – but still a chance of qualifying in the top eight teams.
The South African conference has been an incredibly close run thing this year, with the Lions sitting in first on 36 points and the Stormers sitting at the bottom on 24, meaning there is a difference of just 12 points, which, with bonus points can easily be bridged over the final three games.
There is a very real likelihood that with the New Zealand teams going so well, there will only be one wildcard spot available to the South Africans, pending on the final performances of the Australian teams and how many points they can muster.
With that being said, the Jaguares are currently in poll position, and with the Argentinian franchise winning six on the trot, it’s hard to see them failing so badly they miss the finals.
The Stormers will need to win here to make the finals. There is almost no doubt about that, but even back at home, they are going to need to be somewhere near perfect – which would be a huge improvement on their previous weeks – to do so.
They bring some indifferent form into the clash, having lost at home for the first time this season to the Chiefs a fortnight ago and then being beaten by the Sunwolves in a hot and humid Hong Kong last week.
The Lions, on the other hand, had a rough time on the road, losing three straight. It’s brought them back to the pack in the South African conference, but playing away against the Reds, Hurricanes and Highlanders was never going to be easy.
They managed to bounce back last week by getting the better of the Brumbies at Ellis Park in a big 42-24 win, their attack finding its feet again.
The Lions should get the better of this one. They are top of the conference for a reason and while their form has been up and down, they should be far too good for the Stormers.
Lions by 15.
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