Published: Wed, August 08, 2018
Sport | By Wilson Duncan

Crusaders vs Lions - Report - Super Rugby 2018 - 4 Aug, 2018

Crusaders vs Lions - Report - Super Rugby 2018 - 4 Aug, 2018

The Crusaders had called on their best qualities to beat the Lions 37-18 in the Super Rugby final on Saturday, taking it to nine titles in 22 years.

Lions skipper Warren Whiteley could not argue with the scoreboard, saying his side fired every weapon in their arsenal but could not land a telling blow as even their famed rolling maul was rolled backwards.

The visitors then wrongly believed they had their first try when Jantjies stretched just short of the line, but they did not have to wait long to score as Brink thundered through from 20 yards.

There is no doubt the Lions had more than enough ball in the game, but it was what they did with it, the amount of mistakes they made and their options that made them get reduced to ordinary opposition in the face of a clinical and exceptionally good Crusaders team.

The defending champions, who started as red-hot favourites in Christchurch, produced an heroic defensive effort with Mo'unga clinically engineering the points when chances arose. "If they score two or three tries they win the game".

"Three years in a row in the final, well deserved".

But as with everytime there was hope, the Crusaders simply struck back, with Mitchell Drummond scoring a few minutes later from a handsome attack which saw the ball move through several sets of hands.

Scott Barrett's late try sealed the Lions fate and underlined just how hard it is nowadays for sides to win in New Zealand. The Crusaders were forced to make 180 tackles against the Lions, with flanker Matt Todd making an extraordinary 30 by himself.

It was largely one way traffic from then on, as Mo'unga took control and enhanced his reputation as the in form fly half in New Zealand. It felt like it was about 20 that we defended.

Beast mode: Seta Tamanivalu celebrates after scoring his team's first try against the Lions. Credit to the Crusaders...they stopped our mauls, stopped our scrums.

In one dig at the Crusaders, de Bruin suggested their success might be due in part to generous treatment for New Zealand teams from referees.

Mo'unga converted both and slotted twin penalties while opposite Elton Jantjes notched his second penalty goal on the stroke of halftime.

A try in the 53rd minute to powerful backrower Cyle Brink brought the Lions back into the match at 23-13, giving them a final shot at victory.

Despite a 17-point advantage, hearts fluttered among the hosts when inside centre Ryan Crotty was shown a yellow card for cynical play with 15 minutes to play.

Lions Hooker Malcolm Marx barged across for his 12th try of the season but Crusaders lock Scott Barrett effectively sealed the result with a 70th minute try. Meanwhile, Bulls coach John Mitchell, who was a year ago linked with the Sables coaching job, is reported to be unhappy with his player budget and has requested R90 million from the Bulls board to help turn the franchise into a dominant force in Super Rugby again.

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