The Lions celebrate a try. Photo: Samuel Shivambu/BackpagePix
JOHANNESBURG - It's simple really: The Hurricanes must beat the Crusaders in Wellington (kick-off tomorrow at 9.35am on Saturday) and the Lions must beat the Sharks in Durban for Johan Ackermann’s Lions to finish first on the Super Rugby log.

Only the Crusaders (with 14 wins out of 14 games for 63 points) and the Lions (with 13 wins from 14 games for 61 points) can finish on top. Finishing first guarantees a place at home for as long as a team stays in the competition, up to, and including, the final.

Last year, the Hurricanes finished first and played in Wellington in the quarters, semis and final. The Lions (who finished second), meanwhile, played at Ellis Park in the quarters and semis, winning well against the Crusaders and Highlanders, but had to travel to Wellington, in New Zealand, to contest the final, where they lost 20-3.

Whether they’ll admit to it or not, every Lions player, coach, administrator and fan will be glued to their TV sets from 9.35am, hoping and praying the Hurricanes get up and beat the Crusaders.

The reality is the Lions haven’t lost at Emirates Airline Park since late April last year - that’s a run of 13 games unbeaten - and they’d be heavy favourites to go all the way and win the title were they to play all three knockout games at home.

Good news for the Lions is the Hurricanes are at full-strength while the Crusaders have rested their first choice front row of Joe Moody, Owen Franks and Codie Taylor, but will still put out a team including All Blacks Israel Dagg, David Havili, Kieran Read, Matt Todd, Scott Barrett, Luke Romano, and Wyatt Crockett. 

The Star

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