Mo'unga instrumental as Crusaders win ninth title

Lions coach Swys de Bruin has rejected the suggestion his team are destined to be three-time losers

Lions coach Swys de Bruin was in no doubt about what his team needs to do to break with history in Saturday's Super Rugby final against the Crusaders in Christchurch.

Flanker Cyle Brink and hooker Malcolm Marx scored tries for the Lions, who suffered their third successive final defeat, having lost to the Wellington Hurricanes in 2016 and Crusaders a year ago.

The writing was on the wall early for the visitors when the Crusaders neutralized the rolling maul which has been their most reliable attacking weapon throughout the season, producing 21 tries. With that in mind, the Crusaders made a massive statement when they pushed the Lions' first lineout drive backwards with ferocious intent.

"No possession, no territory against a pretty desperate Lions side".

"We wanted to have a crack at Jantjies and attack his channel", Robertson said. It brings an end to Crockett's illustrious career with the 35-year-old prop, who played 202 games for the Crusaders and 71 Tests for the All Blacks, having announced this was his final season at this level.

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Not even a late yellow card to Ryan Crotty was able to stop the Crusaders, who scored tries to outside backs Seta Tamanivalu and David Havili, lock Scott Barrett and replacement scrumhalf Mitchell Drummond.

And with that, @crusadersrugby secure their ninth #SuperRugby title!

"He had great feet and great hands and could kick clutch penalties and conversions".

The Lions continued to hammer at the Crusaders to the point that by the time Brink had smashed his way through two tackles and ran 25 metres to reduce the deficit to 23-13 the tide appeared to have turned. But a decision to kick for goal from long range in the 59th - which missed - spent the Lions' momentum and allowed the Crusaders to regroup.

But as with everytime there was hope, the Crusaders simply struck back, with Mitchell Drummond scoring a few minutes later from a lovely attack which saw the ball move through several sets of hands. If they had scored two or three times they win.

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Tamanivalu says the team environment and "brotherhood" made him feel at home with the Crusaders. Havili, Samu, winger George Bridge and Drummond all handled before Barrett crashed over.

This defensive work was a hallmark of the Crusaders' memorable victory in the final.

De Bruin endorsed the ability of Elton Jantjes to guide the Lions' backline, though the mercurial flyhalf is often criticized in South Africa.

Scott Barrett's late try sealed the Lions fate and underlined just how hard it is nowadays for sides to win in New Zealand.

Lions captain Warren Whiteley admitted it hurt to again fall short at the final hurdle. "We gave it everything out there and credit must go to the Crusaders". It will be the Wallabies' best chance of a victory over their old foe, and after they won their last meeting in Brisbane a year ago, confidence will be high. "We tried everything, threw the kitchen sink at them and they deserved this win".

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