The British and Irish Lions ignited their tour of New Zealand by ruthlessly ruining the Crusaders’ ideal season with a potentially-priceless 12-3 victory.
After two less than convincing performances in the first week of the tour, a win over the Provincial Barbarians and defeat to the Blues, Ireland and Lions defence coach Farrell now has a foundation on which to build, starting on Tuesday (8:35am Irish time) against the Highlanders in Dunedin.
“There was criticism in some quarters about the style of game the Lions played, their kicking and turning game, ‘in the washing machine, back and back, back and forth, ‘ as Crusaders coach, Scott Robertson put it”, acknowledged Henry.
Williams and replacement Watson – a tryscorer in the opening tour match – brought a long-range attacking threat when the game opened up in the second half. Biggar admires his physicality, ball-carrying ability and kicking game.
One bright spot for the tourists was the kicking out of hand from Farrell and Conor Murray, the pair touted as the likely Test half-backs ahead of the tour, even though Farrell missed one shot at goal.
Vunipola was pictured looking distinctly disinterested as the Crusaders performed a pre-match haka against the Lions. “There are times when you need to be pragmatic and take the points in a tight game any way you can”, he wrote.
The tourists played with a mixture of power and precision in a try-less affair to eclipse a Crusaders side who are top of the Super Rugby ladder with a flawless 14-win record.
Jones was also unimpressed with the poor finishing by the outside backs. Now we’ve got to build on this for Tuesday against the Highlanders – and we know how unsafe they can be as well.
The Europeans play a different game than we do down here.
Jonathan Davies, who like Hogg was forced off in the first half at AMI Stadium with a head injury, is “symptom free” of concussion, according to Gatland.
Defensively, it was a huge shift for the players, with the Crusaders held scoreless for the first time in 38 games.
They lost two kickoffs in the first half and conceded half a dozen soft penalties while dropping passes.
“It definitely felt like that with the team that played tonight”.
“I suppose we didn’t get the rub of the green but we had to adapt to what was happening with the ref and what their tactics were.”, he said.
The Glasgow flyer is still sweating on the outcome of specialist examinations on his cheek, but defence coach Farrell believes the Lions boast a good array of alternative options.
With a sound base at lineouts and at breakdowns, the Lions achieved good field position.
The first four scrums ended in penalties against the home side, with the first completed scrum not until the 21st minute when the Crusaders drove over the top of the Lions and caused an all-in shoving match.
Farrell made the halftime lead 9-3 with a penalty 10 minutes from the break.
Crusaders midfielder Jack Goodhue made a lovely break which led to a well-placed kick and a try-scoring opportunity on the left wing, but George Bridge was not able to pick it up cleanly.