Crusaders v B&I Lions – Match Stats
It may have been a week later than planned, but against the Crusaders last night, in their third tour match, the British & Irish Lions finally showed up.
The Crusaders were the template for Super Rugby so far in 2017: they are unbeaten and look to be coasting towards the title. Last night however, they took on not another struggling Aussie franchise, or even a similarly attack-minded Kiwi team… but the combined might of four nations’ international talent: the British & Irish Lions.
To be fair, I think a lot of people (myself included) thought they would provide a stern test for Gatland’s team. After all there are 9 All Blacks in that line up, and six in the pack alone. Yet, it did not go that way. The Lions were superb and never let the Crusaders settle into any rhythm, playing to their strengths with ludicrous line speed, but also providing some real spark in the backs at times.
Connor Murray and Owen Farrell must be the 9/10 axis for the Tests. It starts and ends there for them – fast ball and a great brain will get them where they need to go.
Notable in the numbers here is the enormous tackle count the Crusaders had to pull off. Forced to make 136 tackles, missing 16. That will drain any teams’ resolve over 80 minutes, and Mr S. Hansen will be noting that closely.
Not beautiful, not perfect, and not without some bizarre reffing calls affecting both sides from enigmatic Frenchman Raynal… but the Lions won, and will get a huge confidence boost from that win. The Tour has really started for them, and beating that much fancied Crusaders team will give them real belief for the Tests. I think the series just got interesting. And we all know deep down, that if the Lions win the Test series 2-1, no one will ever care about those two games in Whangarei and Auckland last week.
Crusaders v British & Irish Lions 2017 Match Statistics Infographics