“Know your enemy and know yourself and you can fight a hundred battles without disaster” was what Chinese strategist Sun Tzu once said . The Lions definitely employed that philosophy to their game against the Crusaders .The game did not follow the same pattern of running rugby that is usually seen in New Zealand. One has to remember that the New Zealand teams are playing the best players from four different countries who play a completely different style of game. The tour is back on track for the Lions, who showed in this match against the Crusaders that they might have bite about them after all. On a cold night at AMI Stadium, they matched the Crusaders punch for punch and emerged deserved victors.
It wasn’t pretty but definitely was effective ,defence coach Andy Farrell’s rush defence in particular offered Scott Robertson’s men few opportunities, and the constant high kicks, while a boring tactic for many in the Southern Hemisphere was pragmatic and right for the conditions.Connor Murray played more field position and territory than playing from anywhere. Murray, JohnnySexton, and Owen Farrell controlled the tempo of the game and squeezed the Crusaders into mistakes.The pack had the look of a test eight with Taulupe Faletau again impressive at No8, George Kruis strong in the lineouts in combination with Jamie George, and Sean O’Brien giving Warren Gatland all sorts of headaches at openside flanker.Sam Warburton is the tour skipper but O’Brien was fantastic against the Crusaders.
The Crusaders have been successful this season because of their superior skill level and fitness, but they couldn’t play the high-tempo game they prefer due in part to their handling errors and stifling Lions defence which put the previously undefeated Super Rugby leaders on the back foot.Luke Romano spilled two kickoffs and Richie Mo’unga a kick and a pass. They all combined to stop the continuity they like to play with and it meant the Lions weren’t as stretched as they could have been.They were restricted to just three points which is a stunning feat. Jack Goodhue was impressive for the Crusaders with the ball, Israel Dagg extremely good without it along with Matt Todd .Nine All Blacks were in the home line-up in Christchurch and they will join their national squad knowing that the Lions may pose more of a threat than many Kiwis had thought following two underwhelming outings prior to this one. Match referee Mathieu Raynal had a poor game as he failed to communicate with the teams effectively but the Crusaders failed to adapt to him as players and home fans were frustrated at scrum time, where Raynal came up with some baffling penalties against the locals.especially. While the Lions kept on his good side.
Did the game live up to expectations and hype? There were no tries, so probably not in terms of attack, but as far as an enthralling contest goes, I believe it did.The Lions should and will play their own game plan. Their mission is to beat the All Blacks no matter what that looks like.If they play their own game plan then surely they have a better chance of success.