Published: Wed, August 08, 2018
Sports | By Juana Wells

Mo'unga the master puts Crusaders on cloud nine

Mo'unga the master puts Crusaders on cloud nine

The Christchurch-based Crusaders outclassed the Johannesburg-based Lions 37-18 in the Super Rugby final on Saturday to win the Southern Hemisphere tournament for the ninth time in its 22-year history.

Crusaders captain Sam Whitelock, left, and Lions captain Warren Whiteley pose with the Super Rugby trophy on the eve of the Super Rugby Final in Christchurch, New Zealand, Friday, Aug. 3, 2018.

Robertson said his much-applauded victory dance was "off the cuff".

Overwhelming favourites ahead of the match, the Crusaders saw off the Lions for the second year in a row, but were under the cosh for much of the match as a fearless defence kept the visitors at bay.

"Because, going through their clips. there is a lot of things they get away with, more than other teams get away with".

Conversely, Crusaders playmaker Richie Mo'unga was once again the star of the show for the home side and claimed man of the match honours.

"I think ball in hand they've got some fantastic players and Elton Jantjies at Super Rugby level has really been one of the stand-out first-fives in Super Rugby over the last while".

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

The Crusaders struck back through Mitchell Drummond.

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

When given ball, Mo'unga showed what a lethal threat he is, creating both first- half tries.

The defending champions are overwhelming favourites to win tonight's final in Christchurch after clocking up a 14-match winning streak and going unbeaten in 20 play-off matches on home soil. It was clearly a weapon of the Lions that the Crusaders had done their homework on, and the visitors were simply never able to get their maul working.

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.

Apart from the combined effort of the pack the contribution behind the scrum of the two halfbacks Bryn Hall and Mitch Drummond allowed man of the final, first five-eighths Richie Mo'unga, to add lustre to his reputation and to provide the tactical nuances to capitalise on even the slightest opportunities that were available.

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.

A late yellow card for Ryan Crotty's cynical play was probably just reward for the Lions, but while there was brief hope when Malcolm Marx bludgeoned his way over, this simply was too big a mountain to climb. "We won it on defence last year and did it again this year".

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