British and Irish Lions Tour: Crusaders v British and Irish Lions Preview


We preview Saturday's game between the Crusaders and the British and Irish Lions. 

The British and Irish Lions take on another Super Rugby team in the form of the Crusaders. The Lions come into this one off the back of a heart-wrenching loss to the Blues, which has seen the British media leap into action and crucify Warren Gatland’s game plan.

So will the Crusaders replicate the Blues and claim a Lions' scalp or will the men from the Home Nations get a much-needed win?

Crusaders v British and Irish Lions | Saturday 10 June | AMI Stadium | 09:35

To Win (80 Mins)
Crusaders 7/10 | Draw 22/1 | Lions 11/10
Crusaders (-2.5) 9/10 | Lions (+2.5) 9/10

If you looked at the prices for this one seven days ago you would have seen the Lions installed as firm favourites. It’s a different story now, however, as a poor showing against the Provincial Barbarians and a defeat to the Blues has seen the bookmakers' faith in the Lions drop to an all-time low.

The Crusaders find themselves in a rather strange situation now as they come into this one as strong favourites and with an unexpected weight of expectation now weighing heavily on their shoulders. While there is some added pressure on Scott Robertson’s men, I doubt they will be that greatly affected by it as this is a Crusaders squad that is full of confidence and contains a plethora of experienced heads.

Speaking of experienced heads, All Blacks Sam Whitelock and Luke Romano will be of vital importance to the Crusaders this Saturday. The duo has dominated lineout time during the 2017 Super Rugby season. Both players are also handy carriers of the ball and will look to get the Crusaders on the front foot with some storming rampages.

The man I expect to make the biggest difference here, however, is Richie Mo'unga. He really is a sharp shooting pivot and he’ll be desperate to put in a solid shift with All Black fly-half option Aaron Cruden having limped off during the Chiefs' victory over the Hurricanes.

British and Irish Lions
This tour is quickly becoming a nightmare for Warren Gatland and his men. While they copped a lot of flack for their lacklustre display at Toll Stadium last Saturday, their midweek defeat to the Blues has seen the British sports media go into overdrive comparing the Lions to a bunch of kittens who have just been set upon by a pack of ravaged dogs.

So how do the Lions turn things around? Well, they’ve got to get these combinations right. I understand Gatland is trying pairings out but none of them seem to be functioning all too well. While he hasn’t exactly addressed the issue with his team selection – there’s still a very experimental feel to his side – his backline does look a slight bit better on paper than the one that went down to the Blues.

Verdict: Crusaders 7/10
Like Wednesday, this one is going to be tight. My money is on the 'Saders edging a narrow affair at the AMI.

Written by Darry Worthington for!

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