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Crusaders face Lions in reunion of former finalists

WELLINGTON, New Zealand (AP) The Christchurch-based Crusaders' rematch Friday with a former Super Rugby finals opponent is likely to emphasize how far ahead of the field they are in this season's title race.

The Crusaders will take on the Johannesburg-based Lions, who they met in the 2017 and 2018 finals, winning the first encounter in South Africa 25-17 and the second in Christchurch 37-18 for their eighth and ninth championships.

The Lions are probably not the force this year that they were in those two seasons when they were by far the best South African team. They are currently second in the South Africa conference and only a point behind the first-place Bulls but with a moderate 5-4 record, compared with the Crusaders' 7-1 which puts them atop the overall table.