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The Lions will be the latest team to attempt mission impossible tonight as they travel to Christchurch to take on the all-conquering Crusaders. Join The Roar for live scores and a blog of the match from 5:35pm AEST.
After two successive grand final defeats, the Lions will attempt to gain a small measure of revenge when they clash against the Crusaders this evening.
Like most teams though, chances are that the Lions will struggle yet again against a Crusaders team that appears practically unbackable favourites to lift their third successive Super Rugby title.
Since losing to the Waratahs, the Crusaders have resumed their dominant form, defeating the Hurricanes, Brumbies and Highlanders by convincing margins en route to last week’s bye.
The Lions meanwhile defeated a Chiefs side without injured superstar Damien McKenzie. With that said, the Lions have plenty to play for given the congested nature of a very competitive South African conference.
In team news, Crusaders coach Scott Robertson has made six changes to his starting side for Friday’s replay of the 2018 final in Christchurch.
Most notably hooker Codie Taylor (calf) and winger George Bridge (knee/hamstring) return from injuries while Robertson has elected to rest All Blacks trio Jack Goodhue, Matt Todd and Scott Barrett.
Rising star Will Jordan — who is Super Rugby’s equal-leading top try-scorer — has been left out of the squad completely.
Meanwhile, Springboks hooker Malcolm Marx has been rested for the Lions.
The Lions have made four changes to the starting team that beat the Chiefs, with Robbie Coetzee in for Marx and Nic Groom, Shaun Reynolds and Ruan Combrinck all getting the nod.
Reynolds starts at five-eighth for the injured Gianni Lombard with Elton Jantjies continuing at inside centre.
The Lions pulled a swifty last weekend by promoting stars Marx and Jantjies to the starting lineup just before kickoff after they had originally been named on the bench.
The Lions should have no issue getting up for this contest. The Crusaders are the yardstick and all teams are keen to measure their quality against the reigning champions.
With that said, no team is better at putting teams to the sword than the Crusaders and if they get off to another fast start here, another long night awaits the Lions.
Crusaders by 21
Time: 5:35pm AEST
Venue: AMI Stadium
Betting: Crusaders $1.06, Lions $9.50
David Havili, Sevu Reece, Braydon Ennor, Ryan Crotty, George Bridge, Richie Mo’unga, Mitchell Drummond, Kieran Read, Billy Harmon, Whetukamokamo Douglas, Sam Whitelock (c), Quinten Strange, Michael Alaalatoa, Codie Taylor, Joe Moody
Reserves: Ben Funnell, Harry Allan, Oliver Jager, Mitchell Dunshea, Jordan Taufua, Ere Enari, Mitchell Hunt, Ngane Punivai
Ruan Combrinck, Sylvian Mahuza, Lionel Mapoe, Elton Jantjies, Aphiwe Dyantyi, Shaun Reynolds, Nic Groom, Warren Whiteley (c), Cyle Brink, Kwagga Smith, Marvin Orie, Stephan Lewies, Carlu Sadie, Robbie Coetzee, Sti Sithole
Reserves: Jan-Henning Campher, Nathan Mcbeth, Johannes Jonker, Wilhelm Vd Sluys, Marnus Schoeman, Ross Cronje, Franco Naude, Tyrone Green