Crusaders too strong for Lions in Christchurch

Mar 20 • International • 1213 Views • Comments Off on Crusaders too strong for Lions in Christchurch

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Richie McCaw
The Lions looked competitive against a weakened Crusaders outfit, but their defence was again their nemesis as they slumped to a 46-19 loss in their Super 14 match in Christchurch on Saturday.

In a game where they were in touch for the first hour, and were only behind at 22-16 at half-time, 16 missed tackles tells the sorry story of a team whose defensive pattern is woeful to say the least and which will continue to haunt Dick Muir’s season until it is rectified.

There were some inexplicable calls as well on Saturday, as Muir pulled off Burton Francis at halftime, possibly as a pre-planned rotation move with Carlos Spencer. At the time Francis was having his most confident game of the season, and made the only line-break of the day for the Lions while varying his kicking game well to keep his side in the game.

Spencer was better than previous weeks, but made a poor pass to Wigan Pekeur, which the winger spilled in trying to pick up, and allowed the Crusaders to score.

Even though the Lions looked good in the first half, there was always a sense that the Crusaders side, which benched and rested several of their stars, was always able to break the defensive line on attack. The fact that they didn’t often was a case of their own handling errors and mistakes more than anything else.

To be fair to the visitors, if they can build on the first half, they can take some heart when they come back to Ellis Park, but unless their defence gets sorted out, they will continue to be at the wrong end of big scorelines.

Francis took advantage of an early flurry of penalties to put the Lions 6-0 up after four minutes, but it didn’t last as the Crusaders recovered from their poor start. Sean Maitland beat a charging Todd Clever on the outside with a long pass to open the Crusaders scoring.

Flyhalf Colin Slade, in for Dan Carter, and who scored 21 points on the night, added a penalty before the Lions hooker Hannes Franklin burst through the middle of a ruck to go over the line without a hand being laid upon him.

Slade again retook the lead for the Crusaders, and the Lions were unlucky not to score again when Jano Vermaak’s effort was disallowed as Pekeur was adjudged to be in front of the ball.

It proved to be a costly mistake and a turning point in the game, as the Crusaders immediately seized the advantage as hooker Ti`i Paulo burst through two tackles before sending Jonathan Poff away for the try.

The second half belonged to the home side as Slade kept on plugging the penalties and when Thomas Waldrom put in a big run to send Adam Whitelock over from a turnover, the game was practically sealed.

Maitland was the scorer as Spencer fluffed the pass to Pekeur and replacement scrumhalf Willi Heinz finished off the romp with a last minute try to give the Crusaders a healthy victory and leave the Lions shaking their heads once again.

Scorers:

Crusaders – Tries: Sean Maitland (2), Jonathan Poff, Adam Whitelock, Willi Heinz. Conversions: Colin Slade (3). Penalties: Slade (5)

Lions – Try: Hannes Franklin. Conversion: Burton Francis. Penalties: Francis (3), Lionel Rose.

Referee: Garratt Williamson (NZL)

Crusaders:

15. Jared Payne, 14. Sean Maitland, 13. Adam Whitelock, 12. Ryan Crotty, 11. Zac Guildford, 10. Colin Slade, 9. Kahn Fotuali’i, 8. Thomas Waldrom, 7. Jonathan Poff, 6. Richie McCaw (captain), 5. Isaac Ross, 4. Sam Whitelock, 3. Owen Franks, 2. Ti’i Paulo, 1. Ben Franks

Substitutes: 16. Corey Flynn, 17. Wyatt Crockett, 18. Chris Jack, 19. George Whitelock, 20. Willi Heinz, 21. Dan Carter, 22. Robbie Fruean

Lions:

15. Earl Rose, 14. Wigan Pekeur, 13. Walter Venter, 12. Doppies la Grange, 11. Wandile Mjekevu, 10. Burton Francis, 9. Jano Vermaak, 8. Todd Clever, 7. Derick Minnie, 6. Cobus Grobbelaar (captain), 5. Franco van der Merwe, 4. George Earle, 3. Ross Geldenhuys, 2. Hannes Franklin, 1. JC Janse van Rensburg

Substitutes: 16. Charles Emslie, 17. Heinke van der Merwe, 18. Willem Stoltz, 19. Robert Kruger/Jacques Lombaard, 20. Jacques Coetzee, 21. Carlos Spencer, 22. Michael Killian

[Info from SuperSport]

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