Lots of guts and effort, but no glory. That was the story of the Lions when they went down to Crusaders in a tough match with not much seen of the Crusaders running rugby in Christchurch on Saturday.
The score was 36-10 and the home side, runaway leaders on the Super Rugby ladder, were too good despite the efforts of the Lions.
The visitors did, however, break the normally lethal rhythm of Crusaders with their rush-defence and hard word at the break down. But glory would not be theirs despite the many errors, some of their own making, by the Saders who were not near their lethal best.
But credit to the Lions forwards, who played their hearts out and scrummed well enough to force penalties off the defending champions pack with front-rowers Carlü Sadie, Robbie Coetzee and Sti Sithole more than holding their own.
They controlled further damage by disrupting the home side’s mauls, but while the Lions defensive efforts must be lauded it remains a concern that they let through five tries against a side not near their very best.
The Lions attacking play was also not up to standard, albeit against a team that had answers to all their somewhat lame attacks. The back-three flyers, Ruan Combrinck, Aphiwe Dyantyi and Sylvian Mahuza had very little ball come their way.
Crusaders (17) 36: Tries: Braydon Ennor, Sevu Reece (2), George Bridge (2). Conversions: Richie Mo’unga (4). Penalty: Mo’unga.
Lions (3) 10: Try: Ruan Combrinck. Conversion: Elton Jantjies. Penalty: Jantjies.