CAPE TOWN – The Crusaders made it 25 wins in a row on home soil when they easily beat the Lions 36-10 in a round 11 Super Rugby match in Christchurch on Friday.
In a repeat of the last two seasons’ championship match – which the Crusaders won at home and away – the defending champions scored five tries to edge closer to their all-time home ground winning mark of 26 matches, achieved between 2004 and 2007.
The only highlight of a disappointing Lions performance – coming just seven days after they’d pulled off a surprise by beating the Chiefs in Hamilton – was their scrumming, with tighthead prop Carlu Sadie standing tall against opposite number, All Blacks star Joe Moody.
Defensively they were again poor, often buckling under the relentless pressure applied by the Crusaders.
One’s got to wonder what kind of impact the absence of coaches Swys de Bruin and Joey Mongalo and the non-availability of men like Warren Whiteley and Malcolm Marx had on the performance in Christchurch. All four key figures were unable to be a part of the match due to a variety of different reasons.
The Crusaders were on the board as early as the fifth minute when a set move from a lineout resulted in outside centre Braydon Ennor going over for his team’s first try and by the 10th minute following a penalty by Richie Mo’unga the home side were 10-0 up and the Lions already chasing the game.
Elton Jantjies then slotted a penalty around the 20th minute after a good period of play by the visitors, but by half-time and following a try in the 35th minute by wing Sevu Reece, who powered his way through and over five Lions defenders close to the tryline, the Crusaders were well on their way to a comfortable victory.
Two tries then in two minutes by wing George Bridge – one from a well-worked lineout move and the other from the subsequent restart when the ball was shifted wide and an overlap created – killed off the Lions.
Ruan Combrinck did get one back for the visitors, through an intercept on halfway, but when Reece got his second try around the 60 minute mark after a clever kick-and-gather when he had no room to move on the touchline it merely rubbed salt into the wounds of the Lions.
Crusaders: Tries: Ennor, Reece (2), Bridge (2); Conversions: Mo’unga (4); Penalty: Mo’unga
Lions: Try: Combrinck; Conversion: Jantjies; Penalty: Jantjies