|Jaguares v Lions: Sunday 7.40am (AEST)
at Jose Amalfitani Stadium, Buenos Aries
|Best Bet: Jaguares -11.5 ($1.90)
Value Bet: Jaguares by 11-15 ($4.50)
The Lions are risking the Super Rugby minor premiership by sending a second-string line-up to Argentina to take on the fiery Jaguares.
The Lions are leaving a staggering 15 players at home to prepare for the first week of the playoffs, headlined by Elton Jantjies, Faf de Klerk and Jaco Kriel. The Jaguares are unlikely to make any significant changes.
First meeting between the teams.
The Jaguares rolled the Bulls 29-11 at home in Round 15, but found the Highlanders too tough in a 34-8 loss last weekend. With a disappointing 3-11 record, the Jaguares are ranked 11th in attack and 13th in defence.
The Lions, top of the Super Rugby standings by a point from the Chiefs, have hammered the Sharks (37-10) and Kings (57-21) in their last two outings. Their 11-3 record speaks for itself, as does their top-ranked attack – although their defence is a modest seventh.
Experienced halfback Ross Cronje will captain the Lions in the absence of the slew of first-choice starters, and he’ll relish the one-on-one battle with Pumas Test No.9 Martin Landajo.
Stats That Matter
The Jaguares are 4-10 against the start in 2016, while the Lions are 10-4 ATS this year. The Jaguares are 2-4 at home during their debut season, overall against the start. The Lions are an exceptional 11-3 against the line as the away team since the start of last year (9-4-1 overall). Three of the Jaguares’ four losses in Buenos Aries were by five points or less. Home sides are 70-52-3 this season (66-60 against the start). Home favourites are 62-21 overall and 48-34 ATS in 2016.
The Lions are just about the best travelling team in the competition, but it’s hard to know what to expect from this severely weakened side. The Jaguares have been far more formidable at home in an underwhelming debut campaign, and although their poor discipline and fiery temperament has brought them undone most weeks, the continuity of their line-up and a fierce desire to finish off the season with another South African scalp should get them over the line.
The Way It’s Shaping
Jaguares by 14
Jaguares -11.5 ($1.90)
Jaguares by 11-15 ($4.50)