Although many predicted it, it still hurt to see the Lions in Super Rugby final three years in a row and three time loosing.
The Crusaders claimed a ninth Super Rugby title on Saturday when they beat the Lions 37-18.
The Lions had such a positive start and many believe that maybe, just maybe they can get over that final line but the Crusaders soon asserted their authority and scored 20 unanswered points after Jantjies opened the scoring with a penalty.
It was the tries from Seta Tamanivalu and David Havili that killed the game from the Lions.
The Lions Cyle Brink and Malcolm Marx crossed the whitewash for the Lions after halftime with Mitchell Drummond going over for the Crusaders again.
The game was sealed by Scott Barrett when he went over for the Champions.
Travel wasn’t the reason why the Lions lost on Saturday. The defeat cannot be pinned on a few questionable calls by referee Angus Gardner either.
Lions were outplayed physically and tactically. And for the third year in a row, defence triumphed over attack.
‘We won it on defence last year and did it again this year,’ said Crusaders coach Scott Robertson after the final in Christchurch. The ‘it’ could be taken to mean the final or the tournament as a whole.
The Crusaders outscored the Lions by four tries to two in the decider. The ability to transition from defence to attack was highlighted in that match, and across the conference stage.
The Lions ranked second in the tournament for missed tackles (483). Flyhalf Elton Jantjies ranked third in the individual standings with as many as 51 misses.
Jantjies, Ross Cronjé, Harold Vorster, Lionel Mapoe and Andries Coetzee finished the season with a tackle-efficiency rate of 63% or worse. The opposition experienced little to no resistance when running at the Lions back division, especially in matches where the Lions pack was outplayed.
With a better defensive system the Lions would have stand a better chance to beat this great Crusaders team.
Something they can work on for next year as they are a great team and have shown it three years now.
Tries: Tamanivalu, Havili, Drummond, Barrett
Cons: Mo’unga 4
Pens: Mo’unga 3
Yellow Card: Crotty
Tries: Brink, Marx
Pens: Jantjies 2