Cloud Nine: Crusaders cruise to another Super Rugby title

By Daniel Gilhooly, Daniel Gilhooly is a Roar Guru

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96 Have your say

    Too gritty, too patient and far too ruthless.

    The Crusaders called on their best qualities to beat the Lions 37-18 in the Super Rugby final and clinch a ninth title.

    The South African visitors dominated vast chunks of a brutal decider at Christchurch’s AMI Stadium on Saturday but couldn’t match the composure and killer instinct of the hosts.

    On the back of another exceptional performance from five-eighth Richie Mo’unga, the Crusaders scored four tries to two.

    Attacking opportunities were few – they were forced to make 180 tackles – but the Crusaders finished in clinical fashion.

    Mo’unga, who landed all seven shots at goal, made another claim for an All Blacks Test jersey as his general play hit the sublime level of last week’s semi-final win over the Hurricanes.

    However, he didn’t have the freedom of a week ago as the Lions pack took it to their vaunted All Blacks-laden opposites in search of a maiden title.

    They had to settle for a runners-up finish for a heartbreaking third-straight season.

    Last year they were beaten 25-17 in a Johannesburg final by a Crusaders team who have made an art-form of winning play-off matches.

    The red and black juggernaut are now unbeaten in 21 post-season games in Christchurch.

    They extended a winning streak this season to 15 matches, once again based around defence and a ruthless instinct when opponents slip up.

    Playing with just 35 per cent of the ball, the Crusaders somehow forged a 20-6 halftime lead.

    The Lions dominated the early stages but only had a 3-0 advantage to show for it.

    When given ball, Mo’unga showed what a lethal threat he is, creating both first-half tries.

    He sent France-bound winger Seta Tamanivalu over via a cut-out pass and sliced through to set up fullback David Havili’s try.

    Mo’unga converted both and slotted twin penalties while opposite Elton Jantjes notched his second penalty goal on the stroke of halftime.

    The Lions’ territorial dominance continued after the break, setting up powerhouse flanker Cyle Brink’s try.

    The Crusaders struck back through Mitchell Drummond.

    Despite a 17-point advantage, hearts fluttered among the hosts when inside centre Ryan Crotty was shown a yellow card for cynical play with 15 minutes to play.

    Lions Hooker Malcolm Marx barged across for his 12th try of the season but Crusaders lock Scott Barrett effectively sealed the result with a 70th minute try.

    © AAP 2018
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    The Crowd Says (96)

    • Roar Guru

      August 4th 2018 @ 7:33pm
      taylorman said | August 4th 2018 @ 7:33pm | ! Report

      Well done Crusaders, by far the best team of 2018, and one of the best Crusaders sides to win it…again.

      • August 4th 2018 @ 7:50pm
        Drongo said | August 4th 2018 @ 7:50pm | ! Report

        Absolutely. Very dominant. Congratulations indeed.

        • August 4th 2018 @ 11:23pm
          Realist said | August 4th 2018 @ 11:23pm | ! Report

          Outstanding work Crusaders !

          Some of the Australian franchises have lost their culture and performing like they are suffering from severe effects of the Ebola virus.

          It’s good to show the world that a strong culture, demanding excellence and consistency of a high level of performance is still possiblein this dying code.

      • August 5th 2018 @ 7:51am
        KiwiHaydn said | August 5th 2018 @ 7:51am | ! Report

        The Blues could certainly learn a thing or two from the Crusaders. Perhaps instead of focusing on the ‘brother’hood, they should be focusing on on-field deeds and pushing each other towards perfection.

        • Roar Guru

          August 5th 2018 @ 7:55am
          taylorman said | August 5th 2018 @ 7:55am | ! Report

          I would suggest there is no better example of ‘brotherhood’ right there at the Crusaders.

          • August 5th 2018 @ 8:14am
            KiwiHaydn said | August 5th 2018 @ 8:14am | ! Report

            Have just finished watching the All or Nothing series on the ABs and one of the things that stood out for me was the different leadership styles of Kaino and Read. Both highly experienced, and respected leaders in the ABs.

            Read’s focus appeared to be on preparation and on-field deeds, while Kaino was great at bringing the new guys into the fold (particularly the young PI players). Seemed to characterise both the Crusaders and Blues quite well.

    • Roar Guru

      August 4th 2018 @ 7:50pm
      Corne Van Vuuren said | August 4th 2018 @ 7:50pm | ! Report

      Well done Crusaders, never in doubt.

      Tough luck Lions, not good enough.

    • August 4th 2018 @ 8:00pm
      Julz said | August 4th 2018 @ 8:00pm | ! Report

      Gotta feel for the Lions, 3 straight Finals, comes up short again.
      But this Crusaders side just don’t know how to lose. They do things so well and mesh so well as a team, offensively and defensively, best club team in the world no doubt.

      I remember way earlier this year when someone here on Roar wrote an article about the top 8 teams favourite to win this year or something like that, and the Crusaders were not one of them. Big humble pie served.

      • August 4th 2018 @ 8:06pm
        Pistol Pete said | August 4th 2018 @ 8:06pm | ! Report

        “best club team in the world no doubt”

        until the saders.prove themselves against top sides in the NH, we will never know. just hot air and hubris to talk like that.

        • August 4th 2018 @ 8:27pm
          Dan said | August 4th 2018 @ 8:27pm | ! Report

          15 Abs in 23 and 2 more that cant make 23 will do your Leinster….bring them down here mate, theyll get done for sure.

          • August 4th 2018 @ 8:41pm
            Pistol Pete said | August 4th 2018 @ 8:41pm | ! Report

            i am no leinster fan, mate.

            but i am pretty sure leinster would smash the saders at home in dublin. in chch it would probably be pretty even.

            • August 4th 2018 @ 9:01pm
              Johnny Boy said | August 4th 2018 @ 9:01pm | ! Report

              You’re hilarious. You think Leinster will trash a team filled with current World Cup winners? Whatever you are smoking I would love some of it.

              • August 4th 2018 @ 9:09pm
                Pistol Pete said | August 4th 2018 @ 9:09pm | ! Report

                you don’t come across as a person who enjoys smoking some strong quality stuff. if you did, your mind would be a wee bit more open and you would also show some appetite for knowledge.

                p.s. leinster are packed with irish internationals.

              • August 4th 2018 @ 11:45pm
                TheReds said | August 4th 2018 @ 11:45pm | ! Report

                Crusaders are packed with AB internationals, the best side and current number one.

                You are deluded to think they have a chance against this team.

                Those Ireland internationals will not get in the AB team.

              • August 5th 2018 @ 12:47am
                Pistol Pete said | August 5th 2018 @ 12:47am | ! Report

                yeah, i must be really deluded considering ireland is only ranked number two in the world. silly me.

                if i were you i would take a deep breath and hold it until november when the blacks are coming to dublin, then we shall see.

              • August 5th 2018 @ 8:39am
                Vesi Tago said | August 5th 2018 @ 8:39am | ! Report

                Leinster are packed with Irish players and if memory serve me right the Irish beat the AB for the first time in two yrs ago after 1000000000000000000000000000 attempt you will be lucky if you can witness another one🤪🤪🤪🤪🤪🤪🤪🤪🤪

              • Roar Guru

                August 5th 2018 @ 7:57am
                taylorman said | August 5th 2018 @ 7:57am | ! Report

                Yes we will pistol, perhaps they might win one in their own country for the first time ever. Wouldnt hold your breath though.

            • August 4th 2018 @ 10:46pm
              ClarkeG said | August 4th 2018 @ 10:46pm | ! Report

              What were you saying about hot air.

              • August 5th 2018 @ 12:49am
                Pistol Pete said | August 5th 2018 @ 12:49am | ! Report

                do you have reading disabilities clarke? is my english to advanced for you?

              • August 5th 2018 @ 2:02am
                Rhys Bosley said | August 5th 2018 @ 2:02am | ! Report

                That post is just “too” ironic.

              • August 5th 2018 @ 7:07am
                Fionn said | August 5th 2018 @ 7:07am | ! Report

                Rhys 😂!

            • Roar Rookie

              August 4th 2018 @ 11:56pm
              Paulo said | August 4th 2018 @ 11:56pm | ! Report

              ‘…until Leinster prove themselves against top sides in the SH, we will never know. just hot air and hubris to talk like that…’

              There you go, Pete, fixed it for you.

              • August 5th 2018 @ 12:42am
                Pistol Pete said | August 5th 2018 @ 12:42am | ! Report

                thanks. you are a real hero. without guys like you the armageddon would be close…

            • August 5th 2018 @ 8:35am
              Rugby Tragic said | August 5th 2018 @ 8:35am | ! Report

              .. but I am pretty sure leister would smash the Saders at …”

              On what basis can “you be pretty sure?” …

              Your argument is totally flawed in the way you try to justify your statement. It indicates to me that you would be unaware that in the history of rugby, home and away, Ireland has only ever beaten the All Blacks once in on over 100 years. Scotland’s best effort is a draw, Wales last win was back in 1953 and have suffered 25 continuous losses since, England manages to beat the AB’s on average about once in 10 years.

              What part of that history supports your claim that Leister ‘pretty sure is a superior side to a AB laden Crusaders side?

        • Roar Guru

          August 4th 2018 @ 8:45pm
          taylorman said | August 4th 2018 @ 8:45pm | ! Report

          Yeah yeah. Sure Pete. For our teams always get hammered by northern teams dont they?

          • August 4th 2018 @ 8:50pm
            Pistol Pete said | August 4th 2018 @ 8:50pm | ! Report

            well, why don’t the kiwi sr teams go north and tour? lots of money to make, but still they sit home instead. i think they are seriously scared to face nh teams in europe, otherwise we would have seen it a long time ago.

            • Roar Guru

              August 4th 2018 @ 8:54pm
              taylorman said | August 4th 2018 @ 8:54pm | ! Report

              Yep, they looked scared tonight. Bit annoyed your team didnt win this comp perhaps? Never mind, theres always next year.

              • August 4th 2018 @ 9:00pm
                Pistol Pete said | August 4th 2018 @ 9:00pm | ! Report

                they played at home today with an aussie ref that is starstruck of the saders, of course, they are not scared.

                go tour the north and then we can talk. but oh, kiwi sr teams never do that. i wonder why?

              • Roar Pro

                August 4th 2018 @ 9:07pm
                Melburnian said | August 4th 2018 @ 9:07pm | ! Report

                Pete, you’re embarrassing yourself. None of the SR teams go ro the NH. And vice versa. Maybe Leinster, Saracens or Claremont say might give the Crusaders a fight, but the Saders have more homegrown talent and could probably put any other provincial team ro the sword righr now.

              • August 4th 2018 @ 9:06pm
                Johnny Boy said | August 4th 2018 @ 9:06pm | ! Report

                “go tour the north and then we can talk. but oh, kiwi sr teams never do that. i wonder why?”

                Probably the same reason why no NH club team has toured the SH, genius. It’s impossible to fit it in to an already jammed packed schedule.

              • August 4th 2018 @ 9:14pm
                Pistol Pete said | August 4th 2018 @ 9:14pm | ! Report

                crusaders would do good in europe… for a while. but i think kiwi teams just can’t handle the workload and grind that is in european club rugby. too many games for the kiwis. they usually lose the gas in november despite them on average play ten games less than european teams do in a season.

              • Roar Guru

                August 4th 2018 @ 9:22pm
                taylorman said | August 4th 2018 @ 9:22pm | ! Report

                Yes NH rugby tends to look like grind and hard work, rather than talent and skills I agree. Rugbys a battle of attrition, never mind the quality on the field, its about whos still standing at the end of the season.

                Odd though that kiwis cant handle it when they keep paying them tens of millions to do just that every year. Never could quite work that one out.

                Good points pistol. You have an insight into this game like very few Ive seen. Rare.

              • August 4th 2018 @ 10:15pm
                Pistol Pete said | August 4th 2018 @ 10:15pm | ! Report

                fair enough.

                i believe that all those extra games stops them from developing their skills and nous. as long as the boys in france and england keep on grinding all year long i doubt they will ever catch nz, unless some bad stuff happens to sanzaar and sr.

                the irish, welsh, and scottish seems to be on a better path to compete with the big boys from the sh. england and france will get it right from time to time, but only because they have such a big players pool (even a stopped clock gives the right time twice a day).

              • August 5th 2018 @ 7:21am
                Joseph said | August 5th 2018 @ 7:21am | ! Report

                You sound very sore Pistol Pete.
                Cry me a river will you

              • Roar Guru

                August 5th 2018 @ 8:00am
                taylorman said | August 5th 2018 @ 8:00am | ! Report

                Messa too? Or RTT in yet another strong comeback.

            • August 4th 2018 @ 9:20pm
              KFar said | August 4th 2018 @ 9:20pm | ! Report

              And Leinster toured the SH when???

            • August 4th 2018 @ 10:51pm
              ClarkeG said | August 4th 2018 @ 10:51pm | ! Report

              How often do the European clubs tour NZ?

              • August 5th 2018 @ 12:54am
                Pistol Pete said | August 5th 2018 @ 12:54am | ! Report

                at least the europeans boys have the b&i lions that come down south with a scratch side and play the sr teams (after a very long season up north).
                sh have nothing but their protected test sides that need more rest than a newborn baby.

              • Roar Guru

                August 5th 2018 @ 7:32am
                rebel said | August 5th 2018 @ 7:32am | ! Report

                Are the Lions a club side?
                No club side tours so any comparison is moot, but to bring the Lions in as an arguement for which clubs are better is just plain weird.

              • August 5th 2018 @ 7:35am
                ClarkeG said | August 5th 2018 @ 7:35am | ! Report

                Not often – never I think is the answer.

              • Roar Guru

                August 5th 2018 @ 7:26am
                Kane said | August 5th 2018 @ 7:26am | ! Report

                Pistol Pete, the boys that come down to play the super teams are the second best 22 of a combination of four test teams, and they only won 2/5.

        • August 4th 2018 @ 8:47pm
          TheReds said | August 4th 2018 @ 8:47pm | ! Report

          Leinster would lose against the blues no doubt.

          This Saders team would win most international test matches. There is not a club side in the NH which will have a chance against this Crusaders team.

          • August 4th 2018 @ 8:51pm
            Pistol Pete said | August 4th 2018 @ 8:51pm | ! Report

            blah blah blah


          • Roar Guru

            August 4th 2018 @ 8:52pm
            taylorman said | August 4th 2018 @ 8:52pm | ! Report

            Wouldnt quite go that far, in a one off yes but would the Blues win the comp Leinster did….nope. Not this Blues side. Nor any of the last few seasons. Blues wouldnt win the comp below them. …speaking as a Blues fan of course.

            • August 4th 2018 @ 8:56pm
              Pistol Pete said | August 4th 2018 @ 8:56pm | ! Report

              if you are blues fan, how come you rave on about saders so much? i thought blues and saders are serious rivals?

              better to let the saders fans talk for their team and you can focus on the blues instead.

              • Roar Guru

                August 4th 2018 @ 9:12pm
                Kia Kaha said | August 4th 2018 @ 9:12pm | ! Report

                Talk of best club side is all hypothetical. Depends on where the game would be played and at what time of year.

                Crusaders are the best Super Rugby franchise. That is without question.

              • August 4th 2018 @ 9:16pm
                Pistol Pete said | August 4th 2018 @ 9:16pm | ! Report

                no argument there. saders are by far the best team in the sh. no competition even. kudos to them.

              • August 6th 2018 @ 12:03pm
                USA Kiwi said | August 6th 2018 @ 12:03pm | ! Report

                I seem to remember when the British and Irish lions toured NZ, they got beaten by the Blues and drew against the Hurricanes…. Hmmmm!

        • August 4th 2018 @ 9:59pm
          double agent said | August 4th 2018 @ 9:59pm | ! Report

          Pistol Pete is in Fantasy Land!!!!!!

          • August 5th 2018 @ 7:12am
            Dan said | August 5th 2018 @ 7:12am | ! Report

            Hey Pistol, point it you know where and pull the trigger.

      • Roar Guru

        August 4th 2018 @ 9:59pm
        Corne Van Vuuren said | August 4th 2018 @ 9:59pm | ! Report

        Lions have been the best non NZ side for the past three years, unfortunately the Dominance of NZ is just out of this world.

      • August 5th 2018 @ 12:24am
        Mitcher said | August 5th 2018 @ 12:24am | ! Report

        ‘Someone’ wrote a sports prediction article and wasn’t right (that never happens) and that ‘someone’ is copping the proverbial ‘big humble pie’.

        Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to the hyperbowl.

    • August 4th 2018 @ 8:08pm
      Charlie Turner said | August 4th 2018 @ 8:08pm | ! Report

      Yes what a great team! Well done Robbo and the Saders. The Lions have a lot to be proud of, Warren Whiteley and Swys de Bruin’s humility and grace in their post match speech/interview is the essence of rugby.

      • August 5th 2018 @ 6:18pm
        Akari said | August 5th 2018 @ 6:18pm | ! Report

        “The Lions have a lot to be proud of, Warren Whiteley and Swys de Bruin’s humility and grace in their post match speech/interview is the essence of rugby.”

        Totally agree, CT

    • August 4th 2018 @ 8:34pm
      Worlds Biggest said | August 4th 2018 @ 8:34pm | ! Report

      Congrats to the Saders, the best team by the length of the straight. What an outstanding team and organisation. Feel for the Lions who are also a terrific team. To play in 3 straight Finals and not win is a tough pill to swallow. Well done to both teams.

      • August 4th 2018 @ 9:51pm
        riddler said | August 4th 2018 @ 9:51pm | ! Report


        well put worlds

    • Roar Guru

      August 4th 2018 @ 9:09pm
      Kia Kaha said | August 4th 2018 @ 9:09pm | ! Report

      Despite making the finals consistently, it had been a while since the Crusaders had won a title before last year.

      Blackadder got them to the finals but he had trouble early on without his All Black players.

      Razor found a way to win early on this year when they probably didn’t have any right to. That speaks to the unity of the squad and their ability to get all important momentum.

      When the big guns returned, they slotted in because the team as a whole was functioning. So this to me was a title where lots of players contributed and showed their versatility.

      Proud of the team. The Hurricanes looked ominous early on but they dug in and didn’t panic.

      Feel for the Lions playing night rugby in the middle of winter but the Crusaders this year earned the home final on their remarkable string of victories. That overseas tour to Argentina and South Africa was crucial.

      • August 5th 2018 @ 6:32pm
        Akari said | August 5th 2018 @ 6:32pm | ! Report

        I watched the Crusaders B team demolish the French Barbarians back in June and it’s clear that Razor is already getting ready for the next lot to slot in if and when required, KK. The newbies were also celebrating with their winning squad and most likely dreaming of the day in the very near future when they too will also be celebrating another championship. Impressive stuff.

        If the Brumbies are smart, they should be looking at signing Tima Faingaanuku as he can play 11, 15 and 13 (against the French Barbas in June) and pretty handy with conversions as well.

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