The Wrap: Crusaders win the stats that matter – and with them the title

Geoff Parkes Columnist

By Geoff Parkes, Geoff Parkes is a Roar Expert

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    With a tick over 70 per cent of the Super Rugby final being played in the Crusaders’ half, the Lions – a side renowned for their attacking prowess – may have been excused in thinking that they had found the key to an upset victory.

    They weren’t able to convert their territorial dominance into a famous win however, highlighting not only their own limitations, but also the superior intelligence and preparation of the Crusaders – which was illustrated via a couple of other, telling statistics.

    The Lions’ sweep to the finals had been punctuated by dominance at the breakdown, with Malcolm Marx and Kwagga Smith, time after time, homing in on the tackled player and latching on to the ball long enough to be rewarded. The Lions other ‘go to’ was their attacking lineout maul, which served up multiple tries, mostly to Marx.

    But consider this stat from the final: the Lions threw to 11 attacking lineouts inside the Crusaders’ 22 – an extraordinary number – the majority of them from only five metres out. But rather than buckle under such intense pressure, the Crusaders seemed to thrive on the opportunity to repel each one. With it, they sucked the confidence out of a Lions side, who in turn must have been shell-shocked at how their normally reliable pathway to points was shut off.

    The Lions other banker – turnover penalties – also failed to materialise, their first penalty at the breakdown not coming until the 75th minute, long after the game had already been lost.

    One explanation for this is that the Lions dominating possession meant fewer opportunities to turnover Crusaders’ ball. Another is the organisation and efficiency of the Crusaders’ cleanout, along with the speed at which they operated.

    It is that speed, along with ruthless efficiency, that isn’t recorded in the match statistics, but which was no better demonstrated than in the lead-up to the opening try, scored by Seta Tamanivalu. The Crusaders didn’t do anything that any other ‘mere mortal’ sides attempt to do – pop a runner through a midfield hole, recycle and shift the ball the same way to a flying winger – but they did it with such pace and precision that the Lions, even knowing what was coming, were powerless to stop it.

    israel-dagg-crusaders-super-rugby-union-2017

    The Crusaders just know how to win. (AP Photo/Mark Baker)

    Tamanivalu leaves the Crusaders with the honour of being the first try-scorer in two successive winning finals, and the satisfaction of knowing that he was a major contributor on the night, typified by his determined effort to regain possession from a 22 dropout in the 59th minute, and turn defence into attack at a vital time.

    That dropout was the result of the Lions resorting to a long-distance penalty attempt from Ruan Combrinck, a curious call by a side that, while it was only ten points down at the time, needed to seize the initiative. The decision to take such a low percentage shot for goal spoke to how much their line-out had been neutered, but was also a sign of how these Lions are not the same side they were under Johan Ackermann, where a live-wire like Faf Du Plessis, would have tapped and ran and made something happen.

    Not only was this the moment to change tack, to try to break up or at least stress the structure of the disciplined Crusaders defence, it would also have been a more faithful representation of the Lions USP. They have shown over three seasons that they are a side that plays their best when they play instinctively and without fear.

    It takes two sides to make a game however, and it’s easy to criticise the Lions – or the Hurricanes and Sharks before them – for lacking a ‘Plan B’ when an opponent as good as the Crusaders forces you down blind alleys and dead ends, and then, when presented with only the slightest of opportunities themselves, finishes you off with clinical precision.

    By contrast to their conservative opponent, the Crusaders, down to 14 men in the 65th minute, didn’t go into their shell too early, or look to manage the clock, to eke out a nervous win. Instead, they took a quick line-out throw, freed up George Bridge, and seconds later Scott Barrett was under the posts, franking the victory in style.

    It was only late that the Crusaders closed ranks and played out time, the match ending as it began, with yet another ineffectual Lions line-out raid being snuffed out.

    This set the scene for a poignant post-match ceremony, veteran Wyatt Crockett being duly recognised for his sterling 13-year shift as a Crusader, and Lions captain Warren Whiteley again demonstrating all that is great about sport in his concession speech.

    If there was any predictability about how this denouement – and the whole season – played out, it should not be considered as criticism. The Lions gave it everything they had, and there is nothing wrong with rewarding a worthy winner. The best way for Super Rugby to become more unpredictable is simply for the other sides to get better.

    The match also added more fuel to the now raging bonfire that is Richie Mo’unga’s claim to the All Blacks’ number ten jersey. Steve Hansen seems very keen to carefully stage-manage Mo’unga’s development – as he has done successfully with other developing players – but the assuredness and class which Mo’unga brings is making Hansen’s desire to hold him back, harder by the week.

    Despite a worthwhile Wallabies trial match at Leichhardt Oval on Friday night, Michael Cheika’s job also hasn’t got any easier, with most of the Crusaders forward pack looking in great shape to back up for the All Blacks in Sydney, in two weeks’ time.

    Wallabies coach Michael Cheika

    Michael Cheika (Photo by Dan Mullan/Getty Images)

    ‘Super Rugby is not Test rugby’ is a refrain we have heard repeated for many years now, and perhaps earlier in the season, when the Crusaders were kept at the top of the competition by the efforts of many of their less heralded squad players, this may have been more applicable.

    But now that heavy hitters like Keiran Read and Ryan Crotty have worked their way back into the side after injury, there seems to be no reason why these Crusader combinations, and strengths in close quarter ball transfer, won’t continue to ensure that the All Blacks dominate the Rugby Championships.

    Following the final, world domination quickly became a talking point, with fans keen to debate the relative merits of the Crusaders and Leinster, Pro 14 and European Champions Cup winner.

    As all of these things are, it’s another interesting talking point to be had over a beer or a keyboard (try not to mix the two), and despite the Crusaders’ dominance of Super Rugby, there should be little or no doubt that Leinster would match up evenly – both over the course of a long competition, and in a one-off final.

    But ultimately it’s a pointless exercise – if there was to be such a match, one team would be out of season and one (or both) would have to travel, immediately allowing the losing team’s fans to attach an asterix to the result.

    Consider also that the rugby calendar is so crowded that any such ‘world challenge’ match would have to come at the cost of the Test program. The talking points generated by such an exercise would have substantially far greater implications for rugby than merely who is the best club/franchise team.

    Any elevation of club/franchise rugby at the expense of Test rugby will only serve to illuminate even further, the commercial disparity in rugby, between north and south. And it doesn’t require any matches to played in order to know how this would resolve itself – Super Rugby is in no shape to take on the market size and sheer weight of money that exists in other competitions.

    Whatever the on-field merits of Super Rugby, and the improvement made over the 2017 season, it is the All Blacks, Wallabies, Springboks and Pumas jerseys which provide the intrinsic and financial value for the southern hemisphere nations. Hence SANZAAR’s ongoing internal conundrum to make Super Rugby as good as it can be without making it as great as it can be, lest it diminishes the international game.

    For as long as rugby’s primary battle remains in the Test arena, the southern nations remain powerful. If, or as soon as, the club game attains primacy, then that power will be gone – and with it, all of the leading players, who will naturally gravitate to the one or two leading competitions where the highest salaries are paid.

    Sonny Bill Williams of the All Blacks is tackled by Sean McMahon of the Wallabies during the third Bledisloe Cup match against the Wallabies.

    Can the Wallabies beat the All Blacks this season? (AAP Image/Dan Peled)

    In that light, news last week that English Premiership clubs are expecting a cash windfall of £140 million when the league’s broadcasting rights come up for grabs in 2021 must be of concern. Premiership rugby’s current six-year deal with BT Sport is worth around £200m but Saracens chief executive Mitesh Velani told The Rugby Paper; “We’re now at a stage where Premiership rugby – and Saracens are one of 12 stakeholders in that – want to take the deal to the next level, where it increases significantly again and reaches the point where rugby becomes a real commercial frontrunner. I think it can go another 70 per cent” (£140m or more than £20m increase per season).

    While some point to shaky looking balance sheets and wonder how clubs like Saracens continue to operate successfully, be in no doubt that (if it happens) most of this extra money would find its way into the pockets of players via increased salaries – that’s simply how professional sport works.

    New Zealand and Australia have held the line remarkably well in recent times, South Africa and Argentina less so. The return of Kurtley Beale last year, and now Matt Toomua, are examples of Australian rugby swimming against the tide.

    (AAP Image/David Moir)

    But there is a pressure point looming again next year, with the World Cup providing a natural juncture for players to determine whether a Test jersey or the potential of a Test jersey outweighs the opportunity for them to build a more secure future for themselves and their families.

    That this time frame coincides with SANZAAR negotiating its own broadcasting rights future will no doubt make for a very nervous and tetchy time within the halls of Rugby Australia and New Zealand Rugby.

    Nervous and tetchy might also describe the mood backstage before the next Wiggles concert, with the split being announced over the weekend between yellow Wiggle Emma and purple Wiggle Lachy.

    It isn’t known if the customary band-mates ‘creative differences’ is at the heart of the bust-up, although their press release states that the couple will continue on in their roles as Wiggles. Just without any more wiggling.

    In the meantime, rugby fans without four-year-old children might like to ponder one final statistic. With only Tamanivalu, Crockett and new Wallaby Pete Samu likely to be lost from the 2018 Crusaders line-up, and coach Scott Robertson very much in the ascendancy, Super Rugby title number ten in 2019 would already seem to be well within the Crusaders’ reach.

    Geoff Parkes
    Geoff Parkes

    Geoff is a Melbourne-based sports fanatic and writer who started contributing to The Roar in 2012 under the pen name Allanthus. His first book, A World in Union Conflict; The Global Battle For Rugby Supremacy, was released in December 2017 to critical acclaim. For details on the book visit www.geoffparkes.com. Meanwhile, his twin goals of achieving a single figure golf handicap and owning a fast racehorse remain tantalisingly out of reach.

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    The Crowd Says (235)

    • August 6th 2018 @ 7:19am
      bluesfan said | August 6th 2018 @ 7:19am | ! Report

      My takeaway from the weekend is Joe Schmidt should be locking in the AB role ASAP – because along with Robertson you also have Joseph/Brown after doing great things at the Highlanders, impressing with the Sunwolves this year.

      If Schmidt doesn’t get the job post the WC in 2019 – he might find that the above mentioned names overtake him – and that’s remembering that he is yet to hold a HC role with a NZ Super Franchise – which potentially puts him at a disadvantage.

      • August 6th 2018 @ 7:28am
        moa said | August 6th 2018 @ 7:28am | ! Report

        bluesfan
        Do you even think Schmidt would be a good fit for the ABs?
        He would need to demonstrate that he can coach a completely different style for a start.(I don’t know his CV so can’t judge from his record only what I see from Ireland).

        • August 6th 2018 @ 8:08am
          bluesfan said | August 6th 2018 @ 8:08am | ! Report

          Good question and I’m unsure of the answer.

          Ireland I think are “over-coached” and that might be because of the style of the players – think Sexton vs. BB.

          However Schmidt was at the Blues and BOP – so he should slot in pretty easily and in the NZ environment would imagine that the players will be allowed a little more freedom.

          Probably what will be the key to his getting picked – is the team he will surround himself with. Way back in 07, post the 07 WC, when it came to appoint the coaches it was initially consider that it was Deans vs. Henry – in reality it was Deans vs. Henry/Hansen/Smith, and think that’s why Deans lost.

          So key for Schmidt is that he will need to come in with a strong back up team and that will probably mean NZ Based coaches – as can’t see the NZRFU replacing an AB Panel with all off-shore based personnel.

          • August 6th 2018 @ 10:55am
            Connor33 said | August 6th 2018 @ 10:55am | ! Report

            Despite appreciating the outcome, the whole Deans not getting the AB coach thing was bloody bizarre—bordering on a bloody disgrace.

            Henry and Hansen’ coaching incompetence was amplified after being knocked out in a quarter final—first time for an Ab team and then they get their jobs back. Who was the poor Ab who got hammered after 95?

            Anyway, again, Deans did so much for AU rugby—unearthing Pocock over Smith, backing Beale and get Cooper into the international scene. Deans got the whole 4 code thing in Oz as well and realized that winning was one of the only ways to keep the code above water.

            • August 6th 2018 @ 11:20am
              Kane said | August 6th 2018 @ 11:20am | ! Report

              ” the whole Deans not getting the AB coach thing was bloody bizarre—bordering on a bloody disgrace.”

              From an NZ point of view the right decision was made, as McCaw said in his book, “if Deans had a strong assistant, he didn’t last.”

              It was never a case of Deans v Henry, Deans turned up to the presentations with no plans around his assistants, the senior players who had played under them both, backed Henry and Co.

            • August 6th 2018 @ 11:34am
              Rugby Tragic said | August 6th 2018 @ 11:34am | ! Report

              …”Who was the poor Ab who got hammered after 95″ … assuming Connor you were referring to Coaches, … it was not Deans in 1995 … It was Laurie Mains..

              • August 6th 2018 @ 12:04pm
                Jerry said | August 6th 2018 @ 12:04pm | ! Report

                Who announced he wasn’t seeking reappointment before the tournament.

              • Roar Guru

                August 6th 2018 @ 12:07pm
                Wal said | August 6th 2018 @ 12:07pm | ! Report

                Mains left of his own accord didn’t he?

                Thank goodness the NZRU got beyond the RWC obsession and realised 1 knockout game does not represent a coaches worth

                Henry and Co had an 87.5% winning record to the end of 2007.
                That doesn’t fit my definition of incompetent.

            • Roar Guru

              August 6th 2018 @ 12:16pm
              taylorman said | August 6th 2018 @ 12:16pm | ! Report

              Shows how much you know Connor. Because he coached oz he should have got the earlier job?

              He turned up with nothing at the interview. NZ learned that dumping coaches after a loss, something we’d been doing since 91, wasnt working. And they were proved right. That quarterfinal loss remains the last world cup match they have lost.

              How can you argue, particularly in hindsight, it was the wrong decision?

            • August 6th 2018 @ 12:21pm
              Muzzo said | August 6th 2018 @ 12:21pm | ! Report

              Well Connor33, it might pay for you to have a little read of Anton Oliver’s book, “I Anton Oliver”, as he himself gives over some of the reason’s that Deans never got the top job. Believe me, apart from being a very good read, it goes into that particular issue very well. After all after his playing days, Anton was offered a very high position within the NZRFU.

        • August 6th 2018 @ 11:35am
          Muzzo said | August 6th 2018 @ 11:35am | ! Report

          Hi moa,
          Yeh mate, the Saders have Ronan O’Gara on board as an assistant coach, who from memory was associated with Joe Schmidt. Word is from the Saders establishment, like from a friend of a friend, that O’Gara had a fairly big input, with the form that Richie has been producing over the season. I wouldn’t be surprised, as he has looked the goods. Perhaps Shag, will do the fine tuning lol. Cheers.

          • August 6th 2018 @ 12:04pm
            moa said | August 6th 2018 @ 12:04pm | ! Report

            Hiya Muzzo
            That is interesting if true mate.I asked Nick Bishop a few days ago what, if any, changes he had detected in Mo’unga’s play this year.
            I thought he was bloody good last year and that it was a progression this year, but great if a coach has come in and added something to the equation.
            The quibbles I have with BB at 10 remain the same as they were 3 years ago.There was a brief period when Wayne Smith was still around where he attacked the line with ball out in 2 hands, or at least present his chest to opponents and not his outside shoulder, ( a hallmark of Cruden) but since then he has reverted back to the ‘Beauden Shovel’; easy to read and for opposition defences to drift off and really difficult for whichever poor sap is wearing the 12 jersey!

            The argument that because Mo’unga plays behind a “Rolls Royce pack” is specious at best–with all due respect to Mr.Hansen–there will be an even better pack serving him at Test level!
            If BB’s form is down to his poorly-operating Hurricanes’ pack then how is it going to suddenly improve if the AB’s only have parity in the internationals? And if the AB forwards have more than parity then RM will be ok, right?

            I guess we will wait and see.Barrett is a fine player–coached by excellent and knowledgeable people and I trust them to make the right calls.If guts is called for they will show it.If it’s trust then fine and sobeit.

            • August 6th 2018 @ 12:16pm
              Council said | August 6th 2018 @ 12:16pm | ! Report

              Sorry Moa, that’s a fairly weak argument.

              Give BB a pack that isn’t going backwards by being completely bossed around and you’ll see him back to his best.

              Rm had the benefit of a pack dominating it’s opponent and constantly keeping them on the back foot, with immense pressure on D as well.

              Swapthat around and you would have seen the roles reversed between the two.

              While also keeping in mind that the Canes as a whole have looked fairly tame the last few games.

              • August 6th 2018 @ 1:32pm
                moa said | August 6th 2018 @ 1:32pm | ! Report

                Council
                No offence taken mate.
                “Swapthat around and you would have seen the roles reversed between the two.”
                I don’t agree.
                I’m talking technique here and not form.Have a look at Aaron Cruden in the 20 minutes or so he played inside SBW versus Ireland about 4-5 years ago (in NZ). Front on to the opposition, ball out in two hands, options left and right.
                A nightmare for defenders.
                BB’s m.o. is often static reception followed by a telegraphed ball to his outside.Again, not talking form per se but style.

                MitchO
                Think you are referring to the left-to-right pass to Seta Tamanivalu.Nice check and delay prior too.

              • August 6th 2018 @ 4:04pm
                MitchO said | August 6th 2018 @ 4:04pm | ! Report

                Yes I think that was it. A well executed finish to the break that looks easy when they finish but is stuffed up by one of my teams too often.

            • August 6th 2018 @ 12:30pm
              Muzzo said | August 6th 2018 @ 12:30pm | ! Report

              Yeh true mate, but, yeh Richie I think will go well, even if our pack is on parity. like his sharpness, ability to see the gap, beat the man, nice boot, & his defence is up there ATM. Shag will, no doubt, add a thing or two to his repertoire, but moa, I have been impressed with him. Also if it is O’Gara’s input ATM, then he has done exceptionally well.

              • August 6th 2018 @ 12:41pm
                MitchO said | August 6th 2018 @ 12:41pm | ! Report

                Feels strange to be talking about a Crusader named Richie M.

                Mouna’s pass for to the try after his break was pretty good. Was that to Crotty? Matters not, it was hardly a pop. He went through the gap at pace and at the right time threw a sufficiently perfect long pass to his support. Looked easy but I’ve seen many a high level player stuff up easier long passes than that.

      • August 6th 2018 @ 8:54am
        Dan said | August 6th 2018 @ 8:54am | ! Report

        Nah leave Joe where he is

    • August 6th 2018 @ 7:24am
      moa said | August 6th 2018 @ 7:24am | ! Report

      Once again a top wrap Geoff.
      I only watched the game the one time but I felt the Combrinck long-ranger came at a time where the Lions had begun to wrest a bit of ascendancy and that the host’s were beginning to sit back a bit retroactively.
      For that reason alone I thought the choice to go for posts totally wrong and blame the coaches for that decision; I noticed that the admirable Warren Whitely and his team tend to get over-managed a bit from the sidelines with some minion scooting on with a tee almost before the ref has finished blowing!
      I hope this kind of thing doesn’t spread to other teams because I reckon the bloke on the spot usually has the best position to judge whether or not a scrum is preferable to a kick or lineout etc.

      Your comments on the club scene are interesting too.Personally, if rugby were to go the way of the EPL eg I would switch off and start building model airplanes or something.Bad enough for me having 5 minute foreigners being picked in teams before setting foot in the land they go on to bellow the anthem of; diminishing the worth of representing your country would be the final straw for me.

      • August 6th 2018 @ 7:40am
        Sgt Pepperoni said | August 6th 2018 @ 7:40am | ! Report

        Well said Moa

      • Columnist

        August 6th 2018 @ 7:56am
        Geoff Parkes said | August 6th 2018 @ 7:56am | ! Report

        Hi Moa

        We might be a bit old school but I too like to see players making decisions on the field based on what is unfolding in the match, and not being programmed to look towards the sideline.

        Nothing wrong of course with the coach running a tactical message out if he can see something that needs attending to, but the best sides allow players to be empowered to make decisions and back their own ability.

        • August 6th 2018 @ 12:06pm
          moa said | August 6th 2018 @ 12:06pm | ! Report

          Geoff
          The older I get the more ‘Old-School’ I seem to become! 😉

    • August 6th 2018 @ 7:35am
      BBA said | August 6th 2018 @ 7:35am | ! Report

      I think the real story with the territory and possession stats is not so much how good the Crusaders defense was (which it was), but rather the Lions defense was not at the same level.

      If they had defended better then the game would have both been closer and more likely the possession and territory stats would have evened up.

      While it wasn’t an easy tackle, but that tackle missed on Tamanivalu for the first try was a key moment in the game and the Crusaders are a hard time to play catch up rugby against.

      • Columnist

        August 6th 2018 @ 7:52am
        Geoff Parkes said | August 6th 2018 @ 7:52am | ! Report

        Sorry BBA – not sure how, but reply to your post ended up getting posted just below, under Sgt Pepperoni

    • August 6th 2018 @ 7:38am
      Sgt Pepperoni said | August 6th 2018 @ 7:38am | ! Report

      Great wrap Geoff and congrats on winning the tipping- even if nobes very valiantly went mad for the final round.

      Faf du plesis? I think you’ve faffed your fafs

      • Columnist

        August 6th 2018 @ 7:44am
        Geoff Parkes said | August 6th 2018 @ 7:44am | ! Report

        You know something Sgt… that’s the 2nd time I’ve made that same mistake! 🙂

        Faf de Klerk of course!

        I’ve been giving the Film Festival a hammering over the weekend – too many movies in one hit fries the brain.

        • Columnist

          August 6th 2018 @ 7:49am
          Geoff Parkes said | August 6th 2018 @ 7:49am | ! Report

          What stood out for me BBA about the Saders’ defence was the speed at which players got back into line.

          The norm is for tacklers to loiter on the ground and slow the ball up as much as they can without getting pinged. But the Crusaders’ tacklers were noticeably rolling out as quickly as they could, jumping back up to their feet like it was a military drill, and regaining their place in the defensive line.

          Of the two tries the Lions did score, the one to Brinck came from Todd getting himself into an awkward position, not being able to grasp with his arms and so falling out of the tackle, and the one to Marx was the result of sustained pressure close to the line – a very stingy return given the amount of possession the Lions had in the red zone.

          • Columnist

            August 6th 2018 @ 7:50am
            Geoff Parkes said | August 6th 2018 @ 7:50am | ! Report

            Maybe Faf and Des Hanigan are mates?

          • August 6th 2018 @ 11:39am
            BBA said | August 6th 2018 @ 11:39am | ! Report

            Regarding the getting up I remember reading or hearing somewhere that the players were yelling and supporting each other to get up off the ground and that had been a key element of there defensive plan. So you have to give the plaudits to Scott Robertson as defense has been one of his duties when it comes to the more hands on coaching role.

            Certainly has the potential to be a defense coach for the AB’s as they may feel he is a bit raw for head coach.

            • Columnist

              August 6th 2018 @ 12:37pm
              Geoff Parkes said | August 6th 2018 @ 12:37pm | ! Report

              That’s a great observation and a perfectly logical career progression for Robertson, BBA.

        • August 6th 2018 @ 11:50am
          Muzzo said | August 6th 2018 @ 11:50am | ! Report

          Yep, Geoff I really think the Lions missed the likes of Faf. He IMO would have made a big difference, & possibly helped Jantjies direct the traffic better than what he did.

    • Roar Guru

      August 6th 2018 @ 7:44am
      Nobrain said | August 6th 2018 @ 7:44am | ! Report

      Plan B? The Lions plan failed when their strongest set piece (Line) was taken care by Crusaders. The only thing that seems to be working a little bit was the pick and go but you cannot do that for 80 minutes. I do not see what else they could have done. Kicking the ball against the Crusaders is suicidal. The NZ team does not let you play outside with the type of defense they have.You cannot give them the ball and play defense , besides Lions “D” is not the strongest point they have.

      • Columnist

        August 6th 2018 @ 8:31am
        Geoff Parkes said | August 6th 2018 @ 8:31am | ! Report

        Hi Nobes

        Agree that there is little that the Lions could have done. Sometimes the best team is simply the best team.

        That said, I would like to have seen them try to break up the tempo of the match. Despite the Lions having most of the ball and possession, the Crusaders were never really taken out of their comfort zone. It might have been more risky, but we’ve seen the Lions blow sides away by lifting the pace of the game and in retrospect, they needed to at least try to do this.

        • August 6th 2018 @ 11:01am
          numpty said | August 6th 2018 @ 11:01am | ! Report

          I found the recycle time of lions ball glacial at best, not sure if this was primo defence of the saders, poor tactics or efforts by the lions or both but the difference in tempo between the teams was marked! The saders seemed to be aligned and have time for a cuppa before the ball came out the back of the lions ruck. Secondly, their attack was very one dimensional, there was one point when they were attacking in the saders 22 where the ball didn’t get passed more than once for about 10 phases. This is why the only time the lions scored was due to a one on one tackle failure and a lazy read not being tight enough to his inside man.

          • August 6th 2018 @ 11:36am
            bushFooty said | August 6th 2018 @ 11:36am | ! Report

            I agree Numpty. Seems like the Lions were not sure what to do. Thought the Crusaders were offside most of the night as well…

    • Roar Guru

      August 6th 2018 @ 7:56am
      Kia Kaha said | August 6th 2018 @ 7:56am | ! Report

      Thanks, Geoff.

      The Crusaders wider squad is going to be needed as test players in a World Cup year are going to be even more managed than they were this year.

      Quite agree that club rugby shouldn’t bite further into test rugby. I wouldn’t want to see a European and Super winner take each other on as one would be severely disadvantaged.
      Football also has its own global club tournament but it never holds the appeal of the continental tournaments.

      Post 2019, will be an interesting period for sure.

      • Columnist

        August 6th 2018 @ 8:24am
        Geoff Parkes said | August 6th 2018 @ 8:24am | ! Report

        Hi Kia

        Yes that’s a good point about next season being a RWC year, where player management will play an important role.

        It suggests that sides like the Highlanders will struggle a bit, but the Crusaders might be relatively better off because they have deeper squad depth.

      • August 6th 2018 @ 1:01pm
        Rugby Tragic said | August 6th 2018 @ 1:01pm | ! Report

        Congratulations KK … great performance…

        • Roar Guru

          August 6th 2018 @ 5:39pm
          Kia Kaha said | August 6th 2018 @ 5:39pm | ! Report

          Thanks, RT. This back-2-back win was in more ways more impressive than last year’s. The Crusaders were a marked team but knuckles down after a shaky start to get 15 straight wins.

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