The Lions will beat the Crusaders and claim a first ever Super Rugby title in the professional era.
The Lions (then Transvaal) in 1993 beat the All Blacks star-studded Auckland 20-17 to win the Super 10. This was in the amateur era of what was effectively a pre-season competition that didn’t last month than a month.
The Lions have in the last two seasons produced their most successful Super Rugby returns after averaging less than 30 percent in victories over the course of two decades.
The Lions a year ago beat the Crusaders and Highlanders at home in the Super Rugby quarterfinal and semifinal and lost the final 20-3 to the Hurricanes in Wellington, New Zealand.
No team has ever travelled to South Africa or New Zealand to win a final in the 20 year history of the tournament.
The Crusaders, 20-19 winners against the Brumbies, are the only team to ever win a final in another country. The Crusaders, seven times winners and playing in their 12th final, are also the only team to win three away finals (two in New Zealand and one in Australia).
Everything, however, is stacked against the visitors from New Zealand, in terms of history and occasion. The Lions are unbeaten in 15 matches at Ellis Park and Saturday’s 61 500 sell out crowd were primarily be wearing the red of the Lions.
Both teams have lost just one match in the competition in 2017.
If this final was in Christchurch I’d be emphatic in my view that the Crusaders would emerge victorious. Home ground advantage is monumental in this tournament, which is why the Lions will win a first ever title.
Past Super Rugby finals (away wins in bold):
1996: Blues 45-21 Sharks, Auckland
1997: Blues 23-7 Brumbies, Auckland
1998: Blues 13-20 Crusaders, Auckland
1999: Highlanders 19-24 Crusaders, Dunedin
2000: Brumbies 19-20 Crusaders, Canberra
2001: Brumbies 36-6 Sharks, Canberra
2002: Crusaders 31-13 Brumbies, Christchurch
2003: Blues 21-17 Crusaders, Auckland
2004: Brumbies 47-38 Crusaders, Canberra
2005: Crusaders 35-25 Waratahs, Christchurch
2006: Crusaders 19-12 Hurricanes, Christchurch
2007: Sharks 19-20 Bulls, Durban
2008: Crusaders 20-12 Waratahs, Christchurch
2009: Bulls 61-17 Chiefs, Pretoria
2010: Bulls 25-17 Stormers, Soweto
2011: Reds 18-13 Crusaders, Brisbane
2012: Chiefs 37-6 Sharks, Hamilton
2013: Chiefs 27-22 Brumbies, Hamilton
2014: Waratahs 33-32 Crusaders, Sydney
2015: Hurricanes 14-21 Highlanders, Wellington
2016: Hurricanes 20-3 Lions, Wellington