The Johannesburg Lions are on mission impossible according to almost every pundit, when they take on the Crusaders in Saturday's Super Rugby final.

It means South Africa's finest — $8 outsiders — are widely expected to suffer a third consecutive defeat in the ultimate game of the season, having never won the trophy.

The Lions lost at home to the Crusaders last year and to the Hurricanes in Wellington the previous season.

Here are some of sport's most famous second-best sequences when it came to the biggest show.

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1) Jimmy White (snooker)
Maybe the most famous losing streak of all. England's White lost five world championship finals on the trot, four to Scot Stephen Hendry, in the first half of the 1990s.

In his 2014 autobiography the gifted White reckoned drug addiction cost him 10 world titles, an exaggeration as wild as his old lifestyle.

2) Venus Williams (tennis)

In 2003, Venus Williams became the first player to lose four consecutive Grand Slam finals and all of them to her sister Serena, the fifth woman to hold all the major titles at once.

"I don't like losing altogether, whether it's to Serena or any other player - it's just never fun," said Venus, after the last of those defeats in the Australian Open.

Sick of silver...Venus Williams (left) with sister Serena. Photo / Getty Images
Sick of silver...Venus Williams (left) with sister Serena. Photo / Getty Images

3) Buffalo Bills (American football)

From the 'don't know whether or laugh or cry' department.

Quarterback Jim Kelly and the Bills are the only team to have made four consecutive Super Bowls - the franchise's only appearances - and lost the lot during the 1990s.

"I might have lost four Super Bowls in a row, but I've kicked cancer's (butt) twice, and I plan on making it a third," Kelly said this year.

4) Stirling Moss (Formula One)
The British motor racing legend was F1 championship runner-up four times in a row during the 1950s, a decade dominated by the great Argentinian Juan Manuel Fangio.

Like White and the Buffalo Bills (above), Moss never claimed the ultimate prize.

"The idea of driving for points goes against the whole point of racing...any driver who's worth the name tries to win every race he runs. Eventually, the world championship ceased to be very important to me," Moss said years later.

5) Wellington (rugby)
Wellington have a terrible record in this department and lost four consecutive national finals from 2006.

After the 2009 loss to Canterbury, star halfback Piri Weepu lamented: "I've been here seven times and I'm 0-7 at this stage."