The Lions suffered their third defeat in four matches, this time going down 14-8 to the Crusaders in a round seven Super Rugby match at Ellis Park on Easter Sunday.
The defeat follows recent losses to the Blues and Jaguares, with a narrow win over the lowly Sunwolves sandwiched in between. The Crusaders showed they have the Lions’ number after also winning last year’s Super Rugby final, at the same venue, and denying the home team a first-ever title.
In an error-strewn affair on Sunday, the Crusaders dominated territory and possession and deserved their win on the highveld. They did most of the attacking play and stood tall in defence and when it mattered they scored two second half tries to suck the life out of their hosts.
After the Lions had gone 5-0 up inside 15 minutes thanks to a try by young wing Madosh Tambwe it looked as if the home team was about to take charge of proceedings. But they were unable to get close to the Crusaders’ line again in the first period, but the visitors also didn’t really threaten to score a five-pointer.
But soon after the second half restart the Crusaders showed their experience and scored two quick tries by Sam Whitelock and Jack Goodhue to rock the home team. Both were converted by Mitchell Hunt and with more than 20 minutes to go the men from New Zealand led 14-5.
Some quality defending and a bunch of errors then prevented both sides from really coming close to scoring again; the Lions especially poor in creating decent chances against the Crusaders. Late on flyhalf Elton Jantjies slotted a penalty to get his team to within six points and a losing bonus point, but the home team’s fans will be worried about the poor option-taking in attack – and the number of tries their team scored; just the one.
The Lions though remain second in the standings, but they have played seven games, with the other teams in the top half having played five or six. Next up for Swys de Bruin and his charges are the Stormers who visit Joburg on Saturday.
Lions: Try: Tambwe; Penalty: Jantjies
Crusaders: Tries: Whitelock, Goodhue; Conversions: Hunt (2)