Crusaders See Off Lions

The Crusaders defeated the Lions 43-37 in their Super Rugby encounter in Johannesburg on Friday.  The visitors got off to a good start when Ryan Crotty went over inside the first minute to open the scoring (5-0).  The home side hit back quickly and on three minutes great running rugby saw the hosts carve open the Saders defence and Lionel Mapoe finished off well before Elton Jantjies converted to make it 7-5.
 
The Joburg side looked to apply the pressure but a loose pass was intercepted by Johnny McNicholl who ran the length of the field to score and it was 12-7 Richie Mo’unga’s conversion.  The New Zealand side extended the lead on 18 minutes when Wyatt Crockett powered over the line after two great offloads and it was looking like a rout could be on the cards at 19-10.  However, Johan Ackerman’s side hit back with a try through Jantjies and the sides went into the break with the Canterbury franchise in front 22-20 after the teams traded another penalty each. 
 
Crotty scored his second try on 47 minutes as he broke the line and stretched over the line to make the score 29-20.  The kiwi flyer then completed his hat-trick on 50 minutes after being setup by Nemani Nadolo and at 36-20 Todd Blackadder’s boys were out of sight.  Armand Van Der Merwe came off the bench to score a try on 62 minutes (36-27) to hand Ackermann’s charges some hope.
 
But Mitchell Drummond then came on and opened up the Lions defence to make the score 43-27 to the men from Christchurch.  The Gauteng franchise would not lie down though as Van Der Merwe powered over for his second try of the game on 70 minutes and then a late Jantjies penalty helped the men from the city of gold earn a bonus point albeit in defeat.  The New Zealanders ultimately walked away with a good victory in an entertaining clash 43-37.
 
Photo credit: Nick Lourens