Crusaders deserved champions - reaction

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Sunday, August 5, 2018    Getty Images

It was a successful defence for the Crusaders and a third consecutive finals loss for the Lions.

The Sunday Times (Britain): "The Crusaders were so resoundingly superior when it came to attacking armoury and footballing nous that on their way to yet another Super Rugby title in Christchurch yesterday, such minor matters as having little possession or territory did not bother them in the slightest.

"…with Ryan Crotty as effective as ever in midfield, and Kieran Read showing welcome signs of a return to form in the back row, it was typical Crusaders and typical New Zealand. There was never the faintest suspicion that they would not win.

"The Lions had one attacking weapon, their vaunted driving maul from a lineout. Or so people thought. In fact, in five limp-wristed and doomed attempts to score from the driving maul, the Lions' pack was taken to the cleaners, even humiliated.

"The Crusaders were waiting, and well-organised. They drover the Lions backwards with the utmost ease and, in the end, the Lions had to give up on their single attacking weapon and they did well to keep their morale and to score two barrelling tries from individual runners – Cyle Brink and Malcolm Marx, the outstanding hooker back after injury.

"Their backs? If they'd still been out there now they would not have scored a try."

The Rugby Paper (Britain): "This victory in Christchurch, in which the Crusaders outscored their South African opponents by four tries to two, was constructed not just on the brilliant counter-attacking flair encapsulated by [Richie] Mo'unga, but on a brutal defensive system which means they can still your apart off only 33 percent possession.

"…New Zealand teams have always made it their business to strike a psychological blow which puts their opponents in a spin by nullifying their chief weapon. The Lions came to this final against the Crusaders with the most feared rolling maul in Super Rugby, having scored 21 tries so far this season thanks to their heavyweight pack's unstoppable lineout drive.

"Yet, it was stopped in its tracks by the Crusaders – through methods fair and foul – and from there the men from Johannesburg lost their way when it mattered most."

South Africa Rugby Mag: "For the third year in succession, the Lions were outplayed physically and tactically. And for the third year in a row, defence triumphed over attack.

"The Crusaders won 17 out of 19 games in 2018. They finished the season with the best defensive stats, having conceded the fewest tries (44).

"Does that mean they were conservative? New Zealanders may scoff at the idea, but here in South Africa, there appears to be a negative attitude towards game plans that rely heavily on defence.

"The Lions lost all four games against New Zealand opposition during the conference stage. The recent loss to the Crusaders stretched their record against Kiwi sides to six defeats in seven matches over the past two years."