Crusaders break Indian Ocean duck
Sat, 05 Apr 2014 17:07
Lions their own worst enemies
The Crusaders became the first team this year to cross the Indian Ocean and get a Super Rugby win.
They scored two tries (12 points) in the final 10 minutes to secure a 28-7 win over an error-riddled Lions team at Ellis Park on Saturday, putting their stuttering campaign back on track.
It was not flawless, but it was a win based on executing a simple gameplan well and feeding off the home team's mistakes.
The Crusaders had great success by using the kick-and-chase approach, as the were Lions all too often beaten in the air or allowed the visitors free access to possession.
They also flooded the breakdown, making the Lions' life a nightmare in the one aspect from which they normally launch their most effective raids.
And it was at the breakdown where they laid the foundation for a deserved victory.
The Lions' scrum was again a major weapon against a Crusaders front row that rank among the highest for set piece penalties conceded. It didn't help that the referee struggled to figure out what was going on and opted to even out the penalties to cover up his ignorance.
There were some debatable calls at the breakdown, the referee had at least one try (already awarded) overruled after the TMO intervened and the Crusaders also got the benefit of advancing ahead of the kicker at times, but the home team just kept on playing without complaining.
The Lions' partiality to running from everywhere provided the Crusaders with plenty of turnover opportunities, while the shoddy line-out throwing of hooker Willie Wepener and some missed tackles also contributed to the home team's woes.
Both teams created opportunities, but poor finishing and sloppy handling meant the first half was tryless.
The Lions deserve some credit for their defensive effort in the first half, when they won a couple of crucial turnovers under pressure deep inside their 22. After the break a few sloppy tackles and errors afforded the visitors far more freedom.
The first scoring opportunity came after the Crusaders were awarded a scrum penalty, with Colin Slade wide of the mark from a very favourable position. However, in the 10th minute he slotted one from virtually the same spot - giving the visitors a 3-0 lead.
That was followed by a second penalty in the 14th minute, as the Lions found themselves on the wrong side of the referee's rulings.
There was a long-range attempt from Slade late in the half, but he hit the upright and his team took that six-point lead into the break.
The Crusaders started the second half in perfect fashion, with captain Ryan Crotty exposing the Lions' drift defence with a great break to score the game's opening try. Slade's conversion made it 13-0.
Boshoff had his first kick at goal in the 49th minute, but pushed it past the left upright - only his third miss of the season.
However, the Lions came back with a trademark counter - starting inside their half and some superb interplay between forwards and backs, before Lionel Mapoe rounding it off in the left corner. Boshoff added the extras - 7-13, after 53 minutes.
With just over 10 minutes remaining, Israel Dagg had a shot from right in front and made it 16-7.
Another Lions error at a ruck allowed Andy Ellis to snap up the ball and get his team's second try. Replacement Tyler Bleyendaal added the extras to make it a 23-7 scoreline with seven minutes remaining.
And the third try, by Kieron Fonotia, came as the Lions dropped their and concentration in the final minutes - a Dagg grubber sitting up nicely. The conversion was wide, but 28-7 was as much as the Crusaders deserved against a Lions team which need to return to their structures.
Man of the match: Lions scrumhalf Francois de Klerk and flyhalf Marnitz Boshoff were far from flawless, but still very influential. The loose forwards - Warren Whiteley, Willie Britz and Jaco Kriel - were energetic, while Julian Redelinghuys and Schalk van der Merwe were monsters in the scrum. Ryan Crotty found some holes in the Lions' defence and Matt Todd had his trademark all-action and influential performance. However, our award goes to Crusaders fullback Israel Dagg, who was rock solid under the high ball, a constant threat on attack and his kicks out of hand were from the top shelve.
For the Lions:
For the Crusaders:
Tries: Crotty, Ellis, Fonotia
Cons: Slade, Bleyendaal
Pens: Slade 2, Dagg
Lions: 15 Andries Coetzee, 14 Deon van Rensburg, 13 Lionel Mapoe, 12 Stefan Watermeyer, 11 Courtnall Skosan, 10 Marnitz Boshoff, 9 Francois de Klerk, 8 Warren Whiteley (captain), 7 Willie Britz, 6 Jaco Kriel, 5 Martin Muller, 4 Franco Mostert, 3 Julian Redelinghuys, 2 Willie Wepener, 1 Schalk van der Merwe.
Replacements: 16 Malcolm Marx, 17 Corne Fourie, 18 Ruan Dreyer, 19 Luvuyiso Lusaseni, 20 Warwick Tecklenburg, 21 Ross Cronje, 22 Elton Jantjies, 23 JW Jonker.
Crusaders: 15 Israel Dagg, 14 Nemani Nadolo, 13 Kieron Fonotia, 12 Ryan Crotty (captain), 11 Johnny McNicholl, 10 Colin Slade, 9 Andy Ellis, 8 Luke Whitelock, 7 Matt Todd, 6 George Whitelock, 5 Samuel Whitelock, 4 Dominic Bird, 3 Owen Franks, 2 Ben Funnell, 1 Wyatt Crockett.
Replacements: 16 Corey Flynn, 17 Daniel Lienert-Brown, 18 Nepo Laulala, 19 Jimmy Tupou, 20 Jordan Taufua, 21 Willi Heinz, 22 Tyler Bleyendaal, 23 Tom Taylor.
Referee: Marius van der Westhuizen (South Africa)
Assistant referees: Lourens van der Merwe (South Africa), Jaco van Heerden (South Africa)
TMO: Johan Greeff (South Africa)
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