The Crusaders have finally claimed their eighth Super Rugby title, defeating a Lions side that never gave up and if anything played better after being reduced to 14 men just before half time.

Having made the 19-hour flight from New Zealand the Crusaders needed to score early and often to put themselves in a position to withstand the inevitable Lions last-quarter comeback. This they did, building a substantial lead even before having a one-man advantage, and defending it superbly as the Lions threw everything at them.

After Lions flyhalf Elton Jantjies missed an early drop-goal attempt the Crusaders won a turnover on their 22m line. Winger Seta Tamanivalu out-sprinted the defence to score and 5/8 Richie Mo’unga converted for a 7-0 lead after eight minutes.

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Jantjies put the restart out on the full gifting the Crusaders another attacking opportunity that they seized with both hands, Jack Goodhue bagging the second try after 11 minutes after good leadup work from fellow centre Ryan Crotty. Mo’unga missed the conversion from the sideline but at 12-0 the Crusaders were well on top.

The Crusaders almost had a third try after 16 minutes, winger Israel Dagg knocking on in the tackle of centre Harold Vorster. Play returned to the area between the 10m lines with each side having a long-range penalty attempt. Fullback David Havili missed for the Crusaders but Jantjies was on target for the Lions moments later.

With half time approaching Havili took a Jantjies high ball and was collected by flanker Kwagga Smith who never left the ground. Havili landed dangerously which left referee Jaco Peyper no option but to issue a red card.

A scrum penalty as the clock ticked over to 40 minutes allowed Mo’unga to extend the Crusaders lead to 12 points at the break despite trailing in both the territory and possession stakes with 44% and 38%, respectively.

Half time: Crusaders 15-3 Lions

It was vital for the Crusaders to score first after the break and they did through No. 8 Kieran Read, Mo’unga converting for a 22-3 lead that the Lions were always going to find hard to run down, especially with only 14 men on the field and choosing to play only seven forwards against arguably the best eight in the competition.

Another scrum penalty allowed Mo’unga to extend the lead to 25-3 with half an hour remaining. Crusaders coach Scott Robertson went to his bench, subbing on fresh props Michael Alaalatoa and Wyatt Crockett, and lock Luke Romano.

The Lions had three scoring chances in the space of ten minutes through attacking lineouts, the Crusaders nullifying all three either in the air or on the ground. Dynamo hooker Malcolm Marx eventually barged over but with just 16 minutes left a 15-point deficit looked too big to overcome.

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The Lions scored again through replacement prop Corne Fourie with seven minutes left to give his team and the 62,000 mostly Lions supporters in the stands some home of a miracle finale, but another Crusaders lineout steal and a Lions knock-on shortly after ensured the score line remained unchanged.

Crusaders 25 
Tries: Seta Tamanivalu, Jack Goodhue, Kieran Read
Conversions: Richie Mo’unga (2)
Penalties: Mo’unga (2)

Lions 17
Tries: Malcolm Marx, Corne Fourie
Conversions: Elton Jantjies (2)
Penalty: Jantjies

SANZAARmatch page:


Editors note: This should be a mandatory form of celebration for all coaches.


Un-Australian Activities will be taking a break. My thanks to mst and the other contributors.

  • onlinesideline

    In all seriousness these kiwi f…kers are a couple of levels above us AT LEAST. We have to face reality. We have gone backwards at a rapid rate. We dont resemble the way these guys work as a pack whatsover, their structured defense, their pack defense, their power in the tackles they make, their bodyheight, their unity in decison making minute by minute, their execution, their skills, their strategies, their fitness, their presence on the field, their power, their speed, their ref management, not to mention their lineouts and scrums.

    In 2 weeks time I see these guys cantering over our try line a number of times and when they are not cantering over they will be blowing us away down the blindside touchline.

    Its not going to be pretty. I dont know what Cheika is doing in training but if Nathan Grey has not completely overhauled our defence we may completely crumble.
    Maybe its the crumbling we have to have.

    • HK Red

      Yeh to be honest mate, that’s a pretty bloody pessimistic post.
      Though, I struggle to disagree with any of it…..***sigh***

    • Tommy Brady

      Some interesting thoughts. The reality is the Crusaders served up a pretty good blueprint on how to play, and succeed in finals footy. It was clinical, accurate, intense and thoughtful. The model exists – who out there is willing to put in the physical effort, make the required changes and develop the mental toughness to replicate it? Not just once, but match after match, season after season.

      Praise on this occasion is very deserving to the Lions too. They had their hopes ripped apart by a Red Card early in the game. They didn’t give up. They came together, they lifted and they played much of the rugby in the 2nd half. A further powerful lesson for any side out there — whatever level!

      Last point is simply how great was it to see a game played during the day, at an iconic stadium, on a perfect surface, in great weather and in front of a full, noisy crowd. Take a bow South Africa. Super Rugby needs you!!

    • formerflanker

      Agreed. I get the impression that both sets of forwards in this final are hardened warriors compared to our pretty boys.

    • idiot savant

      Yes the Bledisloe is going to be an enormous challenge. It will be interesting to see Cheika’s game plan. Will he try to emulate the British and Irish Lions and try to to attack with defence? It will require a massive turnaround when you consider the number of tries the wallabies have let in the last couple of years.

      Or will he decide to go all out attack and try and get close by scoring points? The Tahs second half against the Canes might be a model. I was thinking this might be our best chance until I saw the Crusaders defensive performance last night. Will there be any way through?

      The only crack of light might be out wide but we will need two wingers with speed to have any chance there, not remodelled midfielders or full backs.

  • Brisneyland Local

    Wow just having watched that, I strongly endorse Onlinesideline’s view, we are totally screwed. The Crusaders would whoop the Wallabies in a canter by at least 30-40 points.

    Firstly congrats to the Saders! Wow they work hard and play brilliantly!

    I think this coming series will be a serious turning point is Australian rugby. Well I hope it is, but if the ARU are in involved it wont be!

    There isnt a lot to say that hasnt been said but their structure, the way their forward pack play, their defence. It is really good. They are fit and agile, their forwards move like our backs.

    Lets Hope Nathan Grey gets fired after the first match, then we might be able to develop a decent defensive plan. But forwards like Tom “I am a fat lazy Waratah that cant scrummage” Robertson, isnt fit enough to carry the water bottles for that Crusaders forward pack.
    Infact our whole forward pack is going to get owned. Foley is going to get owned, and lets hope that he isnt kicking.

    Boy after watching that I am now more fearful than I was before. Oh dear GAGR’s this is going to be really bad. Some how I wish the AB’s had walloped the British and Irish Lions. At least they might have gone in a little complacent. But that Drawn series has poked the bear!

    Call me a negative Nelly but we are going to be given six of the best trousers down old school style.

    • Andy

      Love how you still find room to mention you’re dislike of Foley even in an article about the Crusaders v Lions.

      • Brisneyland Local

        I know, pretty funny for me being a NSWelshman hey!
        But watching the game this morning whilst having my freshly plunged coffee and my piece de resistance Brisneyland Local’s home made and home rolled croissants, it came to me. Whether through a caffeine overdose or a butter overdose, we just dont have the game plan or the cattle for the rugby championship. We are going to get spanked and badly.
        Which is ok if you are paying for it, but not if it isnt volutary if you get my drift!

  • joy

    How many more games will have the guts ripped out of them before the RU come to it’s senses? Another red card and another ruined game. Worse still Smith hardly showed intent and it’s clear the rest of his team had nothing to do with it. This time a final ruined by the brainless unimaginative autocracy.

    Why punish teams and the paying public for the intentional and unintentional acts of individuals? Send them off by all means but allow replacements (unless it is clear the transgression has been coached, judged by frequency of repeat offenses).

    To those who argue that this weakens a red or yellow as a deterrent I say increase the severity of playing bans on individual offenders. Lock them up if it helps, pull out the guillotine if that thrills you but leave the rest of the team and supporters out of it.

    And for Christ’s sake stop stuffing up my weekends.

    • Brumby Runner

      Yep – a red card for the individual should mean the last he sees game time then and perhaps for some time in the future, but the team ought to be allowed a replacement, say after 10 minutes to equate to the YC penalty. That replacement would need to be one of the allowed replacements for the game.

      • TouchFinderGeneral

        I can see the arguments – the question for me is whether player welfare is more important than the result of a game. I’d say it is.

        And let’s face facts – we need at least 14 reds to be issued against the AB’s to stand a chance. Even then ….

    • jamie

      Partly agree. I feel a red is too harsh for anything unless it’s a clearly malicious act.

      In the AFL they report players: meaning they may get weeks, but they still play the game out. If you send someone off and bring on a replacement, it is still an effective punishment IMO.

      But on the flip side, Smith could’ve broken the Saders player’s neck and deserved punishment, and his team being F%#king Pissed at him can be apart of that punishment.

      Perhaps in the future, a red card means the team plays 10 min with 14, then a substitute is allowed to come on, and the Red Carded player is dealt with more extremely in terms of games suspended?

      • Tommy Brady

        What is the appropriate penalty then Jamie for the player issued a red card as a result of receiving 2 yellow cards (neither of which were for malicious attacks)?

        • jamie

          Another 10min off, and even more weeks banned?

        • onlinesideline

          question of the week

      • onlinesideline

        One could argue that there is a certain amount of maliciousness in the fact that the player was willfully negligent. In other words by not making the proper effort to avoid, there is a certain maliciousness to it, because the player does know potentially what the consequences are. He knows sprinting at 100% pace towards catcher he will arrive at the contest point moving forward and most probably colliding / being underneath the catcher in the air. What does he think hes going to do – in addition to sprinting hes going to fly upwards into the air with NO JUMP POINT ? He knows he wouldnt get high enough to contest as catcher as advantage or bending kness before jumping up. His run up is much slower.

        He knows he is a triple long jumper not a high jumper in this contest as hes running to fast.

        One could also argue , yes intent is different and thus worse in as much as a player makes an effort to offend as opposed to not making an effort to avoid offending. But I would argue that they all deserve the same penalty due to

        1. severity of consequences


        2. players KNOWING of the consequences in this day and age.

        Clarifying mental intention can not be expected to be established by a ref in a fast moving sports game as well, but something confined to post match judiciary.

    • Nick

      It’s odd that the game makes a lot of effort to attract supporters and grow commercially yet goes completely the other way with the over-the-top carding system that I feel is now ruining the game. The amount of cards handed out in Super Rugby this year has been ridiculous.

    • HK Red

      He landed badly, but not malicious by the lions player, more clumsy than anything. Arguable his landing was made way worse because his body spun further when his hip collected the shoulder of one of his teammates on the way down.

      • onlinesideline

        But the rule exists to penalise clumsiness as well. Thats the whole point of it – that with respect to the potential injury the law in this instance doesnt separate intent from clumsiness – both can still lead to broken necks.

    • Who?

      Is there any irony that the season started with the Crusaders receiving lots of time against opponents a man down due to a contest for a high ball, and it ended the same way..? I recall the Brumbies (was it Dargaville) copping a YC for it, and having Kiwi commentators feeling horrendously sorry for him!

    • I partly agree about red cards. I think, as I’ve seen mooted elsewhere, the player should be gone from the game as they are, but the team should be penalised for 10 minutes (or maybe 15 for a straight red, 10 for a second yellow) and then allowed to send a sub on so they play with 15 players thereafter. Add 50% to the length of all the bans too.

      That hits the player directly, it does affect the team somewhat but not as badly as we see at the moment. They lose their first choice player for the remainder of the game but we, the spectators, don’t have a 15 on 14 for, potentially 79 minutes. Or as was the case in the second BIL test about an hour. If we take that as close to a worse case scenario (I’m sure red cards have been issued earlier but I don’t remember it), the AB coaches would play a man down in the backs for 10 minutes (or maybe 15) then substitute in ALB as they did, but for SBW rather than taking Kaino off. The normal yellow card rules for front row players and subs would apply. Towards the end of the match the AB’s coaches would be down a tactical substitution because ALB has been out there since the 30th minute. Now, that probably doesn’t bother them that much. And everyone around the world watching has a much better match to watch.

      SBW, instead of getting 6 weeks, gets 9, and whatever you think about the selection game (while I have some sympathy for WR saying ‘it’s not a significant match’ by their own laws it’s got all the officials and it’s on TV for crying out loud… it’s a match) he’s banned for certainly Bledisloe 1 and 2 and probably the next match of TRC too. Whether or not they pick him is another matter.

      I don’t imagine they’ll do it but I really hope someone, somewhere wakes up and does it.

      • Brendan Hume

        I think that’s a really interesting and well considered approach. I don’t think you’d need to increase penalties necessarily, but I like the rest of the approach. I think you’d see more red cards if this were implemented. Perhaps another card for deliberate malicious play so a team did not have the chance to bring a substitute on.

  • Andy

    Excellent game from both teams. Gotta feel sorry for the Lions. They had the legs even with 14. Imagine if they had 15 in the second half and considering how influential Smith is, I really think they would have won it. Was definitely a red card though, by the letter of the law. It wasn’t intentional but just extremely careless.

    The Boks are going to have some backrow and midfield this year. Very scary.

    • Except the squad contains hardly any Lions players? And honestly, did any of the other SA super rugby teams impress you this year?

      • Andy

        Haven’t seen the squad yet. Funnily enough, the Kings impressed me. Maybe that was because they started from a lower base…

    • onlinesideline

      yeah I would be amazed if they are not considerbly better than previous years. How can these guys not put together an awesome rugby side ?

  • Graeme

    Dangerously jumping to catch a high ball should be punished every bit as much as the player in position to catch the ball but not jumping. If players safety is the foremost consideration, then a player intentionally placing their own safety at risk by jumping over the top of another player shouldn’t be rewarded by having that player red carded if they miscalculate, they should be carded themselves.

    • onlinesideline

      But thats tantamount to rendering the contest for the ball in the air almost null and void.

      Question: if a catcher jumps in air to try and take an up and under, at what point would you deem him irresponsible – do you consider the kiwi guys action of leaping into the air wrong ? If catcher has a huge leap in the air like Izzy does and likely to almost always jump higher than the contestors shoulders – should the Izzy’s of the world be penalised for that ?

      I say its is possible for a concerned and caring player to pull out / squat down / avoid. You may ask well when does a contestor know when to contest or not – Id say when he is next to / already arrived at contest point so that he is no longer running forward towards catcher – THEN he is ok to jump UP not forward – then catchers wont land on contestor shoulders

    • Tomthusiasm

      Smith wasn’t competing for the ball though, he rushed in just to occupy the space and made dangerous contact with a player in the air. What I don’t agree with is when two people are genuinely contesting the ball in the air and it goes wrong one player is penalised for not being in a reasonable position to contest. Which is ridiculous when rugby is supposed to be about contesting the ball and having a crack.

  • Nutta

    My idiots opinion for what it’s worth is that the carding of Qwokka was correct. However it was heartbreaking to see such a Trooper despatched that way. It’s a moment of poor judgement the guy will never forgive himself for. I’m not saying that makes it alright, just that I feel for the guy. BTW – congratulations to the Cru.


a.k.a. Waiopehu Oldboy.

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