Super Rugby

Possession crucial to Crusaders' chances

Scott Robertson (Getty Images)
Scott Robertson (Getty Images)

Johannesburg - The Crusaders know that they cannot rely on their semi-final heroics against the Chiefs when they take on the Lions in Saturday's Super Rugby final at Ellis Park. 

In that match, the Chiefs bossed the possession stats by having 66% of the ball while they also created the majority of the scoring opportunities. In the end, though, it was the Crusaders who were far more clinical as they scored four tries to one to emerge 27-13 victors. 

The Crusaders defence was sublime in that match, as it has been for most of the season, but coach Scott Robertson knows that they will need more ball if they are to knock over the Lions.

"We won’t win if we only have 19% of the ball. You can’t defend for 80-odd percent of the game," he said.

"We did a great job against the Chiefs and the week before (against the Brumbies) it was the opposite and we held the ball.

"We’ll have to get the territory and possession stats right to give ourselves a good chance against a pretty accomplished Lions side."

Robertson pointed to the difficult weather conditions as reason for his side's methodical style against the Chiefs, but while the dry conditions in Johannesburg will facilitate a running brand, the coach suggested that his side will not veer too far away from what has worked for them.

"You still need to slow the ball down in different ways, which we’ve been good at all year," he said.

"Our discipline has been good in the finals and we know that the Lions have given some penalties away to date.

"They go hard at the ruck, but they also get the most turnovers. They’re big men and they carry hard.

"We’ve got to be smart around that area and it’s no different to any other week with the South African sides. They’ve got their strengths and we’ve got our style in the way we defend. We’ve got to get that balance and that discipline right."

Robertson also pointed to the Lions kicking game as a threat, saying his charges would have to manage the boots of Elton Jantjies and Ruan Combrinck. 

If the Crusaders win, it will be their first Super Rugby title since 2008. 

"When you hear there’s going to be 63 000 people at Ellis Park, you know you’re in for a big one. We know it’s a big occasion and we know what to expect," Robertson said.

Teams:

Lions

15 Andries Coetzee, 14 Ruan Combrinck, 13 Lionel Mapoe, 12 Harold Vorster, 11 Courtnall Skosan, 10 Elton Jantjies, 9 Ross Cronje, 8 Ruan Ackermann, 7 Kwagga Smith, 6 Jaco Kriel (captain), 5 Franco Mostert, 4 Andries Ferreira, 3 Ruan Dreyer, 2 Malcolm Marx, 1 Jacques van Rooyen

Substitutes: 16 Akker van der Merwe, 17 Corne Fourie, 18 Johannes Jonker, 19 Lourens Erasmus, 20 Cyle Brink, 21 Faf de Klerk, 22 Rohan Janse van Rensburg, 23 Sylvian Mahuza

Crusaders

15 David Havili, 14 Israel Dagg, 13 Jack Goodhue, 12 Ryan Crotty, 11 Seta Tamanivalu, 10 Richie Mo'unga, 9 Bryn Hall, 8 Kieran Read, 7 Matt Todd, 6 Jordan Taufua, 5 Sam Whitelock (captain), 4 Scott Barrett, 3 Owen Franks, 2 Codie Taylor, 1 Joe Moody

Substitutes: 16 Ben Funnell, 17 Wyatt Crockett, 18 Mike Alaalatoa, 19 Luke Romano, 20 Pete Samu, 21 Mitchell Drummond, 22 Mitchell Hunt, 23 George Bridge

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