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Mission (Im)possible

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Not many are given the Lions any chances in next weeks final against the Crusaders in Christchurch, and for most of their reasoning they will be right….but….

We have seen finals comes and go over the years with the one thing we need to keep in mind, it is a once-off.

No second chances and any mistake on the day, big or small can cost you, just asked the Lions and Kwagga Smith from last years final.

The one thing the Lions have this year which the Crusaders had last year, they got nothing to loose.

The whole world have written them off already and I cannot count how many tweets I have seen yesterday suggesting that the Saders must just be give the trophy.

That is what a team like the Lions want to hear. They will be playing with no fear simply going out and trowing everything they got at the Crusaders.

Pressure at this level is something we do not speak off most of the time but that pressure will be on the Crusaders who has been the best team again this year by far.

For the Lions, they have made another milestone in being the first SA team to reach the finals three years running

“The third time lucky” is exactly what the Lions may need to beat the Crusaders in their own back yard but luck plays a very big role in games like this sometimes.

The Lions have been getting better game by game since some of their star players returned from injury and that boosted performances from other players in the squad as well.

With having one of the best tight five combinations in the competition, you do not need to be a rocket scientist to know how the Lions will approach this game.

Reaching a final means you give yourself a chance and that is all one need to lift a trophy after 80 minutes.

If you want to be the best you need to be able to beat the best and the Lions can make history next Saturday.

Not many other teams have crossed the Indian Ocean and came out victories but the Lions can take a page out of their opponents this week who has done it a few times.

Realistically the Crusaders will lift the trophy for yet another year but the Lions can go out with all they have and surprise the crap out of everyone.

The only way they will be able to do this is to play to their strength and that is their brilliant pack of forwards.

The other is to get their defence working from the first minute of the match.

Starving the Crusaders from ball and making sure they do not give them opportunity to feast of their mistakes or give them easy counter attacking opportunities.

This means that Jantjies and the rest of the backs can not kick away ball senselessly like they did against the Waratahs. The Crusaders will punish you and before you know you will be 20 points behind.

They cannot allow the Crusaders to get away from them at all and need to start the game much better than they did in the last few weeks.

The Lions can turn Mission Impossible into Mission Possible

 

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7 COMMENTS

  1. This Sader’s side has everything the Lions have and then some in almost every department. Would be the upset of the century. It’s disconcerting how both the RSA Super sides and the Boks give away so many early points…but that might have just been altitude… where opposition wear themselves down.

    Mallet nailed it on Supersport What NICK MALLETT had to say on SuperSport about the Super Rugby semi-finals in Christchurch and Johannesburg.

    Crusaders vs Hurricanes

    ‘The Crusaders pack and their style of play make them very difficult to beat when playing at home. They scored four good tries through some nice direct play and an international pack of forwards.

    ‘The scoreline was quite high. I thought the Hurricanes would be more competitive than that and it doesn’t bode well for the Lions, who will have to travel to beat the Crusaders.

    ‘It is a truism that the halfbacks that dominate a game generally dominate because their pack is dominant. They have more time to make good decisions and unfortunately if you give time to New Zealand backline players they invariably make the right decisions. Often taking it to the line, they have two or three passing options and of course, Richie Mo’unga has his own ability to break as a third or fourth option.

    ‘The only way teams can compete with New Zealand sides is to put the halfbacks under pressure by putting their pack under pressure. The Canes weren’t able to do that. You have to give the Crusaders bad ball so their No 9 and No 10 don’t have time to make good decisions.’

    HIGHLIGHTS: Crusaders vs Hurricanes

    Lions vs Waratahs

    ‘All of us were a little bit nervous with that fast start from the Waratahs, who showed what they can do with quick ball. The energy they showed in that first 20 minutes was a bit nerve-wracking.

    ‘The Lions managed to wear them down. As Warren Whiteley so rightly said, they went back to their driving maul and scrum and they got some penalties, tries from driving mauls and turnovers.

    ‘Kwagga Smith played very well today and he was aided and abetted by his front row, they made big contributions. There were two great individual tries in that first half.

    ‘In the second half, you almost felt the Lions had too much and as the game progressed you saw the Waratahs’ energy seep out of them. The Kwagga Smith try defined it. It showed the Waratahs team as a whole were very tired at the end of the game.

    ‘If we look forward to next weekend, what the Waratahs have had to experience this week, the Lions are going to experience going in the other direction. It is a failing of this competition, in that there is a massive advantage to the side that plays at home if the opposition has to cross the Atlantic to play.

    ‘The Lions can be very proud that they made the final but it will be remarkable if they win next Saturday.’

    HIGHLIGHTS: Lions vs Waratahs

    The Super Rugby final

    ‘If you look at the Lions’ strengths in the last couple of weekends, they have been very good in the scrums and they have dominated with maul tries. If you look at their opposition next weekend, you have got Joe Moody, Codie Taylor, the flanks, Sam Whitelock and Scott Barrett, all of them All Blacks. So their strengths are going to be countered by the Crusaders’ strengths.

    ‘The forwards are an area which the Lions have always fallen back on when they face difficulty. If you are up against a team that counter your maul and you can’t dominate the scrum then it becomes more difficult for them to impose their pack and play onto the opposition.

    ‘The more time you give a New Zealand side … if you stay on your advantage line and you don’t break the line, you wait for them to come to you and make double hits and turnovers, it is a passive defensive system that means you don’t get linebreaks but you don’t put the opposition ball carrier under pressure.

    ‘So are they going to go up against the Crusaders, who have got some of the best decision-makers in the competition, and allow them time on the ball because they want a safety defence, or are they going to say let’s try and speed up our defence a little bit just to get in their face? The defensive system is going to be under pressure and the Lions strengths are going to be countered. That is what is going to make it difficult, other than the travel.

    ‘It is such a difficult thing for Elton [Jantjies] because he does so many brilliant things. That was a masterful cross-kick last week [against the Jaguares] and at the end of this game. But you want your 10 to make good decisions. He needs to eliminate mistakes. Far more than being a brilliant player, a 10 who makes very few mistakes is a very competent player. You don’t want someone who makes three brilliant decisions and three disastrous decisions.

    ‘I think if you are looking at international selections, everyone discussed Elton and if he was going to be backup or if they were going to look outside him. What would do Elton a tremendous amount of good is a phone call from Rassie [Erasmus] to tell him to relax and assure him of his place in the Rugby Championship squad. My feeling is Elton is playing to prove himself all the time and he just needs to be nice and composed.

    ‘Even though the Crusaders are direct, they are also unpredictable. They can play off nine and 10. It means your second and third defender have a problem as they don’t know who is going to get the ball. That makes it harder to make leg tackles and to steal the ball.

    ‘You have to have a plan. It is all very well having belief, it gives you the ability to get off the ground and make tackles. But you have got to go in with a plan as to how you are going to handle the Crusaders. They have to take them on in the forwards. You cannot allow them to dominate. The Lions have the one pack in Super Rugby that can match the Crusaders. They have a guy in Malcolm Marx who is better than any of the Crusaders forwards. The Lions’ front row can match the Crusaders’ front row.

    ‘I don’t think the Lions are going to win it, but they will be in it for 60 minutes.’

  2. Jacques is right – lions got nothing too lose. Which is v different to past years. Think if Lions switched on from start and are still in it by halftime, anything can happen. No catch-up rugby against Saders. Got to rip in from the start, take them by surprise.

  3. @cab:

    I disagree… sure nobody gives them a hope in hell against this Sader’s side that literally has no peer particularly in Christchurch… but how many more finals failures are the Lions going to endure?

  4. Sader’s are facing a few injuries though… they’re running out of hookers, the beast Taufua is out with a broken arm and there is doubt over Crotty…

  5. One Red Card cost the Lions the championship last year. Crusaders are a brilliant team but Lions have a chance

    I will never write off the underdog, ask Meyer and his WC team of 2015. The same team that lost with two point against AB in semi final.

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