Crusaders win ninth Super Rugby title after clinical 37-18 victory over Lions
Last Updated: 04/08/18 1:08pm
Crusaders won a ninth Super Rugby title with a clinical 37-18 victory over the Lions at AMI Stadium.
Crusaders, who have won more Grand Finals than any other team has played in, retained the title through tries from Seta Tamanivalu, David Havili, Mitchell Drummond and Scott Barrett.
It was the first time in Super Rugby history that consecutive finals have been contested by the same teams and, despite conceding first, the Crusaders made sure that the outcome remained the same as it was 12 months ago.
Scott Robertson's outfit went into the final off the back of a 14-match winning streak but found themselves in defensive mode early on as the Lions dominated the possession.
They were strong on the back foot throughout and repelled the South African side's most potent weapon, their driving maul, in the opening ten minutes.
After struggling to find a way through, the Lions had to make do with three points from the boot of Elton Jantjies and his penalty was cancelled out three minutes later by the man of the match, Mo'unga.
In contrast to their opponents, the Crusaders were ruthlessly efficient when it came to taking their scoring chances.
At the end of the first quarter, Kieran Read caused confusion for the Lions in the middle of the park before Mo'unga's cut-out pass was finished powerfully by Tamanivalu out wide.
As the Lions continued to dominate the possession they looked to their maul again but were repelled. Mo'unga kept the Crusaders scoreboard ticking to 13-3.
With the half-time break in sight, the fly-half was instrumental in sending Havili across for the Crusaders' second try of the match.
Excellent pace and footwork saw Mo'unga punish a loose kick from Jantjies and once the Crusaders were on the front foot their quick handling gave Havili the chance to finish.
Jantjies and Mo'unga traded penalties either side of the break and after the Lions finally crossed the whitewash through Cyle Brink.
Brink's bulldozing run highlighted their determination to try and change the course of the match and pulled the final back to 23-13.
However, the defending champions remained calmed and their clinical finishing came to the fore whenever they conceded points.
Eight minutes after Brink's five-pointer, Drummond ran a textbook support line for the Crusaders and rewarded a sublime offload from Matt Todd. It reopened a 17-point margin going into the final quarter before they went down to 14 men.
Ryan Crotty's yellow card handed the Lions their late window of opportunity, Malcolm Marx seized it in part with a try, but Barrett's score ultimately sealed the Crusaders' title ten minutes from time.