Lions reject underdog tag in Super Rugby final

Silvia Morton
August 8, 2018

Leading up to the final, the Crusaders have showed there's no room for sentiment in their drive for a ninth Super Rugby crown against the Lions as they left out retiring great Wyatt Crockett for what would have been his last game. The 33-year-old loosehead prop is hugely respected not just in South Africa, where he brought up his 100th test for the Springboks in June against England, but around the world after a glittering worldwide rugby career.

The victory celebrations for back-to-back Super Rugby titles had hardly started when the Canterbury Crusaders put the spotlight on completing a triple crown next year.

The Crusaders, playing their first Final at home since 2008, were cheered on by an electric sell-out crowd of 19,600.

"Credit to Sam and his team, they were unbelievable", he said.

While the win was built on defence, 24-year-old Mo'unga ensured the scoreboard ticked over to build pressure on the visitors, who dominated possession and territory. "I can only be proud of every individual because you don't just get opportunities like that against the Crusaders", he said. "He beat about 20 defenders, he kicked the majority of his goals, he was tough on defence, and he was behind a Rolls Royce pack", said Robertson with a nod to Steve Hansen's comment during the week. "We threw the kitchen sink at them and they deserve this win".

While the Crusaders were primed to protect their line, they were also ready to strike back when necessary.

A problem for the Lions is the Crusaders have no obvious weaknesses.

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The loss of their rolling maul - the key element in the Crusaders win - was the biggest blow to the Lions, as were two crucial elements that made a difference at crucial times in the game, and both involved flyhalf Elton Jantjies. From the lineout the Crusaders moved the ball with second five-eighths Ryan Crotty, who would be sin-binned for a cynical foul at a crucial stage in the second half, taking the ball up first.

"[The Lions have] some fantastic ball players - Kwagga Smith scored two fantastic tries last week, so ball in hand the Lions are really, really good".

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.

The home side repeated the dose when Mo'unga extended the lead to 13-3 before Havili crossed after a searing counter attack from the flyhalf following a poor Jantjies kick had opened the field up.

The Lions' territorial dominance continued after the break, setting up powerhouse flanker Cyle Brink's try.

This defensive work was a hallmark of the Crusaders' memorable victory in the final. "It has to be about the team, just about the team and stick to what works for us".

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. Previous year we went over there as underdogs.

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