The Lions’ dreams were dashed Saturday in South Africa as New Zealand’s Crusaders won the Super Rugby trophy for the first time since 2008 with a win of 25-17 against the 14-man Lions team.
South African fans were furious when Lions’ flanker Kwagga Smith was given the red card by referee Jaco Peyper, after the fullback’s mid-air collision with Crusaders’ winger David Havili and bad fall, but according to Supersport journalist Brenden Nel: “Despite the emotion around the red card, the decision was both fair and just and, while unfortunate, came at a time where the Lions were hardly winning the contact battle and were struggling at 12-3 behind.
“While it would be easy to blame the red card for the loss, the reality is that the Lions struggled to impose themselves until late in the second half, and even then lost all the big moments of the game as the Crusaders were both tactically and physically superior for most of the game.”
He said: “If Lions fans were honest, they will realise they never won any of the big moments in the game, and that included three big lineouts in the second half on attack when they had a chance to perfect a great comeback.”
Nel also praised Lions coach Johan Ackermann for having revolutionised SA rugby. This was Ackermann’s last season as he now leaves SA for Gloucester and the English Premiership. Nel said: “While sport may be a theatre of great moments, it remains a tragedy that Ackermann hasn’t been rewarded for the change he has brought to South African rugby.”
He also noted that: “The Crusaders had it all against them, altitude, the crowd and the travel and they overcame it all through smart play and tactical genius. They are worthy champions.”
Read Brenden Nel’s full article here.
Emirates Lions – try: Malcolm Marx, Corne Fourie. Conversions: Elton Jantjies (2). Penalties: Elton Jantjies (1)
Crusaders – tries: Seta Tamanivalu, Jack Goodhue, Kieran Reid. Conversions: Richie Mounga (2). Penalties: Mounga (1)/
— Emirates Lions (@LionsRugbyCo) August 5, 2017
One team, one dream, one cup… Been a long road to this Final.. playing to inspire and playing for the audience of ONE!! pic.twitter.com/6KvFoAZlCL
— Robbie coetzee (@robbie_CL2) August 5, 2017
— BNZ Crusaders (@crusadersrugby) August 5, 2017