He was, he says, “ecstatic” previous year in Johannesburg when the Crusaders broke their championship drought with a Super Rugby title in the Lions den, but it was more like relief for head coach Scott Robertson as his side repeated their feat in Christchurch.
Playing with just 35 percent of the ball, the Crusaders somehow forged a 20-6 halftime lead.
The South African visitors enjoyed almost two-thirds of possession and territory throughout the final, but could not produce the variety of play to crack the Crusaders’ defence.
“Defence goes to show how much we love each other, how much we care”, he said.
“Against that Crusaders side their defence will have to be up there, their kicking game will have to be spot-on because the Crusaders backline can make you pay from anywhere on the park”. It had to be.
The two moments that made the difference for the Lions came at crucial times, where centimetres lost by Jantjies caused a ripple on the scoreboard that was hard to contain. I saw character today and what more can you ask for? “They’re a fantastic team”, de Bruin said.
Again the Crusaders responded immediately after the Lions interrupted a prospective move by putting the ball into touch.
Asked whether Hansen should pick Mo’unga or Beauden Barrett as his staring first-five, de Bruin said: “Yeah I guess that’s a tough one”.
While Hansen said the Crusaders deserved to be regarded as favourites, “there’s no guarantee they’re going to win it.”When you look at a contest like this one, you say to yourself who’s going to dominate the scrums and you can’t really say”. (We) pretty much did everything that we could and they were just very good. “If they score two or three tries they win the game”.
New Zealand Rugby Chief Executive Steve Tew congratulated the Crusaders on re-claiming the Investec Super Rugby trophy.
After finishing as runners-up for the past two seasons, the Lions have a chance to avenge their home defeat to the Crusaders in last year’s showpiece when they take on the reigning champions in Christchurch on Saturday.
They went without silverware for eight years under predecessor Todd Blackadder before Robertson sparked them into life last season.
Ruan Combrinck sliced through Kieran Read and Sam Whitelock on a 40-metre dash to the line, where the Lions pounded the Crusaders defence for 10 minutes.
They did, however, post the first points as Jantjies slotted a penalty from close range in the 13th minute.
Mo’unga’s brilliant season ended with a man-of-the-match display in the final.
Needing to score first in the second half, the Lions’ chances of pulling off an unlikely victory took another blow as Mo’unga landed a long range penalty.
Scorers: Crusaders 37 (Seta Tamanivalu, David Havili, Mitchell Drummond, Scott Barrett tries; Richie Mo’unga 4 con, 3 pen) Lions 18 (Cyle Brink, Malcolm Marx tries; Elton Jantjies con, 2 pen).