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No miracles in Christchurch for Lions - SA critic

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Wednesday, August 1, 2018    Getty Images

Keohane said that wasn't because the Lions were a poor side. Instead it was a combination of the quality of who they would meet in the contest and what he called 'the absolute madness' of a competition format that restricted the preparation time the travelling team had to prepare.

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"The only hope for the Lions is the Crusaders lose a player or two on the way out of the tunnel," he said on sport24.co.za.

The Lions had been in the same position before, in 2016, when travelling to Wellington to play the Hurricanes. But the team that had scored most tries in the competition went tryless in their 3-20 loss.

The travel, and the class of the Hurricanes had undone them and Saturday would be a Groundhog Day for the Lions in Christchurch.

Comparing the sides, Keohane said in a combined side the Lions would have five players, at best.



"The reason the Crusaders so comfortably beat the Hurricanes in the semifinal was because the strength of the team is in the pack and the spine of the team is world class.

"The Crusaders front row is the All Blacks' front row, lock Sam Whitelock is the most experienced All Blacks lock and captained the All Blacks in the absence of Kieran Read, who is fit again and starting at No.8.

"Add flyhalf Richie Mo'unga to the equation and you see why the bookies have so emphatically written off the Lions chances and given the visitors a handicap of 17.5 points," he said.

The Crusaders were the best side at their level in the world, they knew how to win away from home and they had mastered the art of winning at home.

The reality of that was faced by the Sharks when they lost to the Crusaders in the quarterfinal. They had finished in eighth place, 27 points behind the Crusaders on the points table, so the margin of the win was representative of the difference between the sides, he said.

There would be no miracle in Christchurch on Saturday, Keohane said, and if there was to be a miracle for South Africans it would be when the Springboks met the All Blacks in Wellington on September 15.