LIVE

    Defence won Crusaders Super Rugby title

    2017-08-07 12:50

    Lloyd Burnard - Johannesburg

    Johannesburg - The Crusaders, the most successful team in Super Rugby history, relied on their defence to win this year's competition. 

    That is the view of head coach Scott Robertson, who looked on as his side beat the Lions 25-17 at Ellis Park in Saturday's final to register their eighth Super Rugby title. 

    The Crusaders had started strongly and, after a red card to Lions flank Kwagga Smith, extended their lead to 25-3. 

    At that stage, there seemed to be no way back for the Lions, but two tries in the last quarter made for an interesting finish. 

    It was during those final 20 minutes, Robertson says, that the Crusaders had to earn the win through their defence. 

    The Crusaders had only conceded one try in their two playoff matches heading into the final, but Robertson knew that his side would have to build up a substantial lead against a Lions side he always expected to click.

    "It’s incredible. We gave the ball back to a 14-man Lions team and had to defend for a long period of time," Robertson said, referring to the final 20 minutes when the Lions had them on the ropes.

    "In the last 20, everyone was out on their feet and it just shows how hard it is to get a win here at altitude.

    "Our defence won us this championship, there is no doubt about it.

    "We scored enough points and we had to get up early, because we knew we couldn’t chase the Lions with 20 to go. No team has done that. They score their points in the last 20 minutes."

    The Crusaders also nullified the Lions rolling maul, which had been instrumental in the side's miraculous comeback against the Hurricanes in the semi-finals. 

    "It was a key point. They beat teams off the back of those maul tries, so to keep them clean was huge," Robertson said. 

    Captain Sam Whitelock said that there were moments during those final minutes were he felt a Lions comeback was on the cards.

    "There were a couple of times where, even though they were down a number, they kept attacking," he said.

    "We didn’t want to give them the ball but they made us give away a few terrible kicks and penalties that gave them momentum.

    "I don’t know how many times we defended 5 or 10 metres from our line and it really drained the guys."

    The two-time World Cup winner now has his first Super Rugby title to add to the trophy cabinet. 

    "A number of us have been here for eight or nine years and never tasted victory," he said.

    "To be out there was awesome, looking a mate in the eye and no words needed to be spoken. Emotion just came out of everyone and to have that feeling was amazing."

    What To Read Next

    Read News24’s Comments Policy

    Live Video Streaming
    Video Highlights
    Sport Talk

    Fixtures

    Saturday, 21 April 2018
    • Crusaders v Sunwolves, AMI Stadium 09:35
    • Reds v Chiefs, Suncorp Stadium 11:45
    • Bulls v Rebels, Loftus Versfeld 15:05
    • Sharks v Stormers, Jonsson Kings Park Stadium 17:15
    Sunday, 22 April 2018
    • Brumbies v Jaguares, GIO Stadium 08:05
    Friday, 27 April 2018
    • Hurricanes v Sunwolves, Westpac Stadium 09:35
    • Stormers v Rebels, Cape Town 15:05

    Results

    20 April 2018
    14 April 2018
    13 April 2018
    07 April 2018
    06 April 2018
    01 April 2018
    31 March 2018
    30 March 2018
    24 March 2018
    23 March 2018
    18 March 2018
    17 March 2018
    16 March 2018
    10 March 2018
    09 March 2018
    03 March 2018
    02 March 2018
    24 February 2018
    23 February 2018
    17 February 2018

    Logs

    Rank Team P W Pts

    Opinion Poll

    Who will finish top of the SA Conference in this year's Super Rugby tournament?

    Can you name the top Super Rugby tryscorers of all-time?

    TAKE THE QUIZ
    There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.