Crusaders’ defence achieves result

The Crusaders squad celebrates with the trophy after the win. Photos: Reuters
The Crusaders squad celebrates with the trophy after the win. Photos: Reuters
The Crusaders knew before the Super Rugby final that if they stopped the Lions’ attacking lineout drives, targeted first five-eighth  Elton Jantjies and put him under pressure and tackled everything that moved, they were in with a chance of winning.

They did all three on Saturday night while Richie Mo’unga drove them around the field at Rugby League Park in Christchurch to record a 37-18 victory and secure their ninth title.

The Crusaders made 180 tackles to the Lions’ 115 and conceded 15 penalties to the visitors’ six, indicating the pressure they were under at times.

The home side, however, did not crack until the 53rd minute when bruising Lions flanker Cyle Brink brushed past two defenders and ran 25m to score his side’s first try.

"It’s the old cliche that defence wins you titles and I guess we proved that,"  Crusaders lock Scott Barrett, who scored one of his side’s four tries, said.

"We hung tough.

"We slowed their ruck ball down. They’re big men and they want to run straight [so we tried] to get two men into the tackle and can get them going backwards.

"Once you hold them out for a couple of times, that doubt in the back of their minds can grow."

Crusaders coach Scott Robertson break dances around the Super Rugby trophy after his side beat...
Crusaders coach Scott Robertson break dances around the Super Rugby trophy after his side beat the Lions 37-18 in the final in Christchurch on Saturday night.
Scott Robertson’s side had also recognised the attacking weapon the South Africans had with their lineout drives. Hooker Malcolm Marx, who is often the man at the back of the drive controlling the ball, scored 11 tries before the final.

He added his 12th in the 68th minute but it was evident the Crusaders had worked out how to negate the drive as they attacked the ball in the air to ensure it was not clean or countered effectively when it was brought down.

"Our maul defence was huge and it had to be," Robertson said.

"If they score two or three tries they win the game.

"What was it, 20 [attacking mauls]? It felt like it was about 20 that we defended.

"Defence shows how much you care. Defence won it for us last year and it did again this year."

Robertson added that they had deliberately targeted Jantjies, knowing that if they put the enigmatic first five-eighth  under pressure he could crack and commit errors.

It worked. The 28-year-old’s kicking game was wayward, which allowed Mo’unga to counterattack and set up David Havili’s try, while he missed three of the five tackles he was forced to make.

"We wanted to have a crack at Jantjies and attack his channel," Robertson said.

"That’s how we got our first try, we got behind him."

Despite losing their third successive final, Lions coach Swys de Bruin only had praise for the Crusaders.

"Congratulations to the Crusaders. They’re a fantastic team," de Bruin said.

"To come here and [win] is very tough.

"It’s the best team in the world that we played against I believe."  

 

Super Rugby final
The scores

Crusaders    37

Scott Barrett, Mitchell Drummond, David Havili, Seta Tamanivalu tries; Richie Mo’unga 4 con, 3 pen

Lions    18

Cyle Brink, Malcolm Marx tries; Elton Jantjies con 2 pens

Halftime: 20-6

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