Lions only SA winners in Week 2 - bookies
Cape Town - The Lions will be the only South African winners in Week 2 of this year's Super Rugby tournament, if bookmakers are to be believed...
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After Week 1, which featured only two matches (wins for the Stormers and Lions), the southern hemisphere's toughest annual battle kicks into first gear this weekend with no fewer than seven matches spread across Japan, New Zealand, Australia and South Africa.
From a SA perspective, the Stormers are first in action, away to the Waratahs in Sydney (Saturday, February 24 at 10:45 SA time).
Leading SA bookies BET.co.za have installed the Sydneysiders as 8.5-point handicap favourites and can be backed at 7/20 to win outright. The Stormers are available at 12/5, while the draw is on offer at 25/1.
Up next, the Lions at home against the Jaguares (Saturday, February 24 at 15:05).
The Lions are coming off a hard-fought 26-19 derby victory over the Sharks last weekend and will host their South American foes (28-20 losers against the Stormers in Week 1) at Ellis Park.
BET.co.za have the Lions as overwhelming 15.5-point handicap favourites and 3/25 for the win. The Jaguares are 11/2 to cause what would amount to a massive upset, while the draw can be backed at 35/1.
Last, but not least, the Bulls will make their tournament start - having had a bye in Week 1 - against the formidable Hurricanes at Loftus Versfeld on Saturday, February 24 at 17:15.
Much is expected of the Bulls, now coached by New Zealander John Mitchell, after a disappointing showing last season.
But BET.co.za have the three-time champions as 13.5-point handicap underdogs and 17/4 outright to get their campaign off to a winning start.
The Hurricanes, the 2016 champions, are available at 4/25 while the draw is on offer at 28/1.
The Sharks have a bye this weekend.
Should the Lions chalk up back-to-back wins and the Stormers and Bulls go down, as predicted by BET.co.za, the men from Johannesburg will have opened up a handy lead atop the South African Conference standings just two weeks into the tournament.