South Africa's sole remaining side the Lions will look to make home advantage count when they host the Highlanders in the second of the Super Rugby Finals on Saturday.
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Brumbies fans will shout how they were hard done by, but the Highlanders managed to do enough on the road in Canberra to come away victors 15-9.
Unlike the other high scoring quarter final games, this was a tight war of attrition, the difference being the Highlanders ability to actually cross the line, which they did so twice, while restricting the talented Brumbies outfit to a mere three penalties.
Torrid conditions put a dampener on proceedings, limiting the explosive Highlanders backs as the visitors amassed 13 penalties and 17 turnovers, but they showed they’re a side capable in all conditions even when conditions aren’t suited for their dynamic international stars to show their wares.
Unsurprisingly, All Black winger Waisake Naholo grabbed himself a try, while the Highlanders lineout worked well operating at 92% despite the conditions.
In South Africa, it was another high scoring spectacle as the Lions decimated the Crusaders in Johannesburg 42-25, running in two tries in the first ten minutes and refusing to relinquish the lead throughout.
Elton Jantjies of the Lions
The Lions have learned that the key to beating the New Zealand sides is to take their approach to the game and do it better than them, and that’s what they did led by the brilliant Elton Jantjies the Lions scored five tries while creating 12 line breaks and beating 23 defenders.
Unlike their compatriots the Stormers, the Lions have faced Kiwi opposition before, including taking down the Chiefs in Hamilton earlier in the season, so they’ve proven their credentials.
Like the Chiefs, the Highlanders have faced a turbulent amount of travel over the past month, and having travelled to Canberra last round now find themselves on the long flight to Johannesburg.
We’ve seen from this group before however that they love to overcome adversity, and let’s not forget that these guys are the defending champions.
While the Highlanders may be travel weary, the Lions are in uncharted territory, they weren’t meant to be here, this is the best season they’ve ever had, but the Highlanders have been there, done that, and have a number of seasoned, world class All Blacks who are no strangers to big games.
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