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Johannesburg – The Crusaders thrashed out a 28-7 victory over the Lions at Ellis Park in Johannesburg on Saturday to become the first team to win a match on tour in this year's Super Rugby competition.
Despite the dull affair in which both sides appeared listless for most of the match, the Lions did well to keep the Crusaders at bay.
The visitors' six point lead at the half-time break was a true reflection of what transpired in the opening 40 minutes of the match.
Other than the odd line break by either side, there was little to be excited about in the duel between the Lions and the uncharacteristically listless Crusaders.
The Lions had to defend with all their might in the opening exchanges as the Crusaders made an early assault on the line.
In the end the tourists' had to be content with three points via a penalty conversion by Colin Slade in the 10th minute before he added another three minutes later.
The hosts made a few charges on the goal line but poor finishing ultimately saw the opportunities go to waste.
Lions flanker Willie Britz was one of a few standout players in the encounter and he nearly always had a hand in some of the positive movements in their play.
After a forgetful first half, the match finally seemed to kick into gear after the interval with the Crusaders finding the first breakthrough.
The Crusaders were rewarded for sustained pressure on the line with captain Ryan Crotty finding the gap inside the 22 where he was ankle tapped before he got back to his feet to score, with Slade converting.
Three minutes later Lions flyhalf Marnitz Boshoff had a rare miss with his penalty conversion attempt.
The missed kicked was soon forgotten when Lions centre Lionel Mapoe scored his side's first and only try of the match in the 51st minute.
Mapoe dotted down on the left-hand corner after good interplay between the players with Britz playing an instrumental part in the try.
The curly-haired flanker handled the ball on three occasions while he came close to scoring before he was stopped short of the line, with Boshoff converting to cut down the deficit to six points.
Crotty was denied his second try when he pounced on a spilt Lions ball and it initially appeared as if he had scored the try.
Match referee Marius van der Westhuizen, however, called on the TMO to take a second glance and it turned out that Crotty was held up over the line.
Fullback Israel Dagg extended their lead by three more points thanks to a penalty conversion in the 69th minute.
Four minutes later scrumhalf Andy Ellis scored from a turnover ball before Kieron Fonotia added the third try a minute from time fielding a Dagg grubber kick to seal the victory.
Scorers: Lions 7 (0): Try: Lionel Mapoe. Conversion: Marnitz Boshoff.
Crusaders 28 (6): Tries: Ryan Crotty, Andy Ellis, Kieron Fonotia.
Conversions: Colin Slade, Tyler Bleyendaal. Penalties: Slade (2), Israel Dagg. – Sapa