Reigning Super Rugby champions the Crusaders, start this weekend’s final as overwhelming favourites to defend the title they won after last year’s defeat of the Lions.
The Crusaders host the Lions in a rematch of the 2017 Super Rugby final at AMI Stadium, Christchurch.
This game will mark the first time in Super Rugby history that consecutive finals have been contested by the same teams, with the Crusaders pulling off a 25-17 win over the Lions, last season.
This is the first time in Super Rugby history that consecutive finals have been contested by the same two teams.
- The Crusaders have won nine of their last 10 games against the Lions, including their last two on the bounce; however, each of their last three wins against them has come by a margin of no greater than eight points.
- The Crusaders have won their last 14 games on the bounce. The last time they won more was a 16-game streak from April 2005 to April 2006.
- The Lions have scored 87 tries this season, more than any other team in the competition but just one more than the Crusaders (86).
- Matt Todd made 21 tackles last round, the most of any player in the semi-finals; he’s now made 179 tackles for the season, which is the most of any Crusaders player.
- The South African franchise is playing their third final on the bounce, second in New Zealand after the 20-3 loss against the Hurricanes in 2016.
- The Crusaders are undefeated at home in 20 Super Rugby playoff/knockout/finals rugby matches.
We are waiting for the kick-off.
Scott Robertson is on the pitch rousing the crowd as his team walks out to Vangelis’ Conquest of Paradise.
Warren Whitely leads his men out onto the field of broken dreams.
1.00: PEEEEP! We are underway in Christchurch for the final of world club rugby’s showpiece event.
2.00: Scott Barrett is pinged at the ruck after the Lions won the first short-lineout. Elton Jantjies kicks to the Saders 22.
5.00: Ruan Combrinck breaks into the opposition’s 22. He is tackled short. The Lions spread the ball left and right as the crowd chants “defence!” and after a dozen phases, the visitors are held up in the maul. Scrum to the hosts.
6.00: Combrinck really should have scored, or at least got his pass away. We’ve seen in every game the Crusaders play that chances are at a premium.
7.00: Crusaders win the free-kick and Richie Mo’unga clears to just before his 10m.
8.00: George Bridge gets across to knock Harold Vorster’s chip-kick into touch. 5m lineout to the Lions.
10.00: Poor call by the referee; he adjudges that Marvin Orie’s feet touched the ground before the Crusaders pack shoved him backwards. Terrible call by the officials.
11.00: Barrett joins the ruck from the side and is pinged for the second time. Jantjies calls for the tee.
13.00: PENALTY! Jantjies gets his team on the board. 0-3
15.00: Penalty to the Crusaders after Bryn Hall is impeded at the breakdown. Mo’unga will take a shot.
16.00: PENALTY! Mo’unga levels the score. 3-all
17.00: Andries Coetzee is tackled and Whitely is penalised for sealing off. Mo’unga kicks to touch at the 22.
18.00: George Bridge, looking for his record-equalling 16th Super Rugby try of the season, but is tackled into touch by Franco Mostert.
20.00: TRY! Seta Tamanivalu powers his way over in the corner after another lineout. Hall recycled the ball quickly, Mo’unga skip-passes to the winger and, the Lions back-peddling, are behind. 8-3
21.00: CONVERSION! Mo’unga slots the sideline conversion. 10-3
22.00: Vorster is held up in the tackle by Jack Goodhue and Sam Whitelock. Scrum to the hosts around halfway.
24.00: The Lions win the scrum-penalty and Coetzee kicks to the Saders 5m.
25.00: The Lions set-up the driving maul, splitting to the left before Kieran Read is penalised for pulling it down.
27.00: Excellent defending of the maul again. Ruan Dreyer took crash-ball but lost it forward in the tackle. Defensive scrum to the home team inside their 22. The Crusaders are waiting for the drive and defending it on the margins of the laws.
29.00: Mo’unga takes a mark, kicks deep into Lions territory. The ball rolls onto the goal-line, Jantjies collects and dots down, but gives away a 5m scrum because the ball did not cross the plain and Angus Gardner gives the home team an attacking scrum. Jantjies needs to learn the NEW laws.
32.00: The entire Lions front row is pinged for “hinging” at the scrum. Read tells the ref he wants to take the points.
33.00: PENALTY! Mo’unga adds another three. 13-3
34.00: TRY! David Havili crosses after Goodhue’s break. The centre is tackled short by Lionel Mapoe, the ball recycled at lightning speed to Havili for the score. It all came from Jantjies’ poor kick to Mo’unga, who made the initial break from his own half. Game over! 18-3
36.00: CONVERSION! Mo’unga adds the extras. 20-3
37.00: Joe Moody is pinged for holding Malcolm Marx around the neck. Jantjies kicks to the Saders 22, about 10 metres out.
38.00: The Lions go to the back of the lineout and are going through the phases.
39.00: The Lions go 17 phases before the ref calls a halt to play. It was Matt Todd who was caught offsides.
40.00: PENALTY! Jantjies doubles his side’s lead. 20-6
41.00: The ball is passed into touch giving the Crusaders a lineout. Codie Taylor throws skew.
The halftime score was Crusaders 20 Lions 6
The Crusaders have been brilliant, operating with only 36 percent possession and 30 percent territory. Madness!
41.00: PEEEEP! We are back underway in New Zealand.
42.00: Crusaders win a penalty.
43.00: PENALTY! Mo’unga slots the early goal. 23-6
45.00: Lions are on the attack, but they cannot break the Crusaders defence. They go through the phases before winning a penalty. Jantjies kicks to the corner.
48.00: Barrett is caught offsides. The Lions go through the phases before Ross Cronje goes to his right, Jantjies breaks for the line, stretches out and is inches short. Wow! This is a replay of Beauden Barrett’s attempt from last weekend. Jantjies kicks to the corner. Whitely opts for a scrum.
49.00: It’s messy. Dreyer is pinged and the Crusaders clear. Poor by the Lions.
53.00: TRY! Cyle Brink breaks through Todd and runs away from Heiden Bedwell-Curtis and is over for his team’s first five-pointer. It came from a lineout, but not a driving maul. 23-11
54.00: CONVERSION! Jantjies adds the two points. 23-13
57.00: The Lions are fighting their way back, but they need to score soon.
59.00: MISS! Combrinck cannot make it a one-score game, pulling his kick wide.
62.00: TRY! Mitchell Drummond is over under the posts. Mo’unga was involved again before Todd broke into the 22 and offloaded to the supporting Drummond. 28-13
63.00: CONVERSION! Mo’unga can’t miss from there. 30-13
65.00: Combrinck goes close, is tackled. Jantjies and Smith both take a shot. Lions still in possession and have a penalty-advantage after Taylor’s no-arms tackle.
66.00: Jantjies goes to the corner.
67.00: YELLOW CARD! Ryan Crotty is off for cynical play after he kicked the ball out of the ruck from an offsides position. It has been coming with all the penalties on their try-line.
68.00: TRY! Marx powers through Barrett and Whitelock for his 12th try of the season. 30-18
69.00: MISS! Jantjies slips as he kicks and the ball sails wide. 30-18
71.00: TRY! Barrett takes Andrew Makalio’s offload and is over under the sticks. It came from Bridge’s midfield break, beating Kwagga Smith and Marx before shifting to Drummond, who set up inside the Lions 22. 35-18
72.00: CONVERSION! Mo’unga adds the extras. 37-18
74.00: All the substitutes from both teams are getting a run-out.
77.00: Time is ticking down on this year’s competition.
80.00: The Lions go 18 phases before winning a penalty and kicking to the corner.
81.00: The ball is ripped away from a South African attacker and booted into the stands.
THE CRUSADERS WIN A NINTH SUPER RUGBY TITLE.
The final score is Crusaders 37 (20) Lions 18 (6)
Tries – Tamanivalu, Havili, Drummond, Barrett
Pen – Mo’unga (3)
Con – Mo’unga (4)
Cards – Crotty (Yellow, 67′)
Tries – Brink, Marx
Pen – Jantjies (2)
Con – Jantjies
Referee: Angus Gardner
Assistant Ref 1: Glen Jackson
Assistant Ref 2: Nic Berry
TMO: Shane McDermott
15. David Havili, 14 Seta Tamanivalu, 13 Jack Goodhue, 12 Ryan Crotty, 11 George Bridge, 10 Richie Mo’unga, 9 Bryn Hall, 8 Kieran Read, 7 Matt Todd, 6 Heiden Bedwell-Curtis, 5 Sam Whitelock (captain), 4 Scott Barrett, 3 Owen Franks, 2 Codie Taylor, 1 Joe Moody.
Replacements: 16 Andrew Makalio, 17 Tim Perry, 18 Michael Alaalatoa, 19 Luke Romano, 20 Pete Samu, 21 Mitchell Drummond, 22 Mitchell Hunt, 23 Braydon Ennor.
15 Andries Coetzee, 14 Ruan Combrink, 13 Lionel Mapoe, 12 Harold Vorster, 11 Courtnall Skosan, 10 Elton Jantjies, 9 Ross Cronje, 8 Warren Whiteley, 7 Cyle Brink, 6 Albertus Smith, 5 Franco Mostert, 4 Marvin Orie, 3 Ruan Dreyer, 2 Malcolm Marx, 1 Jacques Van Rooyen.
Replacements: 16 Corne Fourie, 17 Dylan Smith, 18 Johannes Jonker, 19 Lourens Erasmus, 20 Marnus Schoeman, 21 Dillon Smit, 22 Aphiwe Dyantyi, 23 Howard Mnisi.