Lions get unexpected support

Back-line players, Courtnall Skosan and Lionel Mapoe have helped the Lions achieve much success in their attacking play in recent years, Photo: Super Rugby Facebook page


A whopping 30 per cent of fans of the other four New Zealand Super Rugby teams will support the Lions against Christchurch’s Crusaders come the tournament final on 5 August.

This according to an online poll the NZ Herald conducted.

A discussion on a New Zealand TV show, The Breakdown, mentioned jealousy as the reason, with the Crusaders winning the competition seven times.

By comparison, the Blues have won three times, the Chiefs have won twice and the Hurricanes and Highlanders have won once each.

Both the Lions and Crusaders go into the match in excellent form. The Lions finished above the Crusaders on the overall Super Rugby log, but it is a widespread belief that the level of competition in the Africa 2 conference was not as strong as that in the New Zealand conference.

Both teams have played excellent running games, complimented by strong forward play and defence. In terms of statistics, the Lions have edged ahead of the Crusaders slightly in the number of tries and carries (90 and 2 095 vs 83 and 2 057). They also dominated metres gained with 9 718, ahead of the Hurricanes (8 844) and Crusaders (8 714).

Yet the Crusaders have a slightly better line-out win aggregate (92.6 per cent vs 91.8 per cent) and have won 95 per cent of their scrums compared to the Lions’ 92. The teams are dead even on ruck success, with 96 per cent.

Statistically, the teams have had a similarly successful competition. One team has not clearly played better than the other. So perhaps jealousy is the only reason some New Zealanders would support the Lions over the Crusaders.

The final will be played at 4pm tomorrow (5 August).

Nicholas Zaal

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