The Lions’ constant pressure and power suffocated the life out of a frustrated Crusaders side to hand them their first defeat of the season.
In a game packed with internationals on both sides, how did the players rate in this bruising game in Christchurch?
15 S Hogg 6.5
Was looking sharp until he ran into the elbow of Conor Murray after 20 minutes. Anthony Watson (rated 7.5) became the Lions most threatening back with many bursts down the left wing. Leading metres run in game with 76.
14 G North 6.5
Important intercept in second half with Crusaders pressing. Four turnovers won during the game as strong in defense with limited opportunities on attack.
13 J Davies 6
Dropped a real opportunity from ten metres out running a tight line. Subbed at 28 mins with concussion. Johnny Sexton (7) played very accuracy and growing confidence. Strong break in second half.
12 B Te’o 7.5
Very strong running throughout the game. Good defense on tryline. Great break in second half spoilt by poor pass to Williams. Beat five defenders and did enough to suggest he may be wearing 12 in the first test match.
11 L Williams 6.5
Frustrating night as poor passing to him limited his opportunities. Strong burst but then knocked on chip kick in promising position. Looks in a threatening mood – All Blacks beware.
10 O Farrell 7.5
Looked sharp and positive in the first half. Speedy passing created opportunities out wide for backs and formed a classy combination with Sexton and Murray. Excellent metre eating on penalty kicks. Missed a penalty in second half. Good tactical punts to gain position. Pencil his name in for the test side now.
9 C Murray 7
Precise box kicks and snappy service. Not many characteristic sniping runs but lots of intelligent touches.
8 T Faletau 8
Made metres every time he touched the ball. Important turnover in second half. Made 53 metres from a game high 12 carries. Sure to be the starting no.8 for the first test. Zinzan Brooke’s critical words must be proving inspiration.
7 S O’Brien 7
Strong link play and popped up for well-timed bursts. Showed great pace to chase down Mo’unga in first half.
6 P O’Mahony 7
Good Lineout steal and solid drives. Industrious and accurate.
5 AW Jones (capt) 7
Strong tackling particularly in second half. Lead the charge shutting down Crusaders momentum many times. Will be happy with this suffocating performance in which the Lions enjoyed 57% possession and 62% territory. The next challenge: capitalise on opportunities on attack. A tryless game is unlikely to win against the All Blacks (but never say never).
4 G Kruis 8
Excellent line out security and pressured the Crusaders into a few steals. Part of a dominant Lions lineout and pack which dominated the mauls with a 98% success rate. Maro Itoje (6.5) made a few typically classy plays when he came off the bench.
3 T Furlong 7
Big wins in scrum penalties in the first half. Under pressure himself as Crusaders sought revenge later. Good involvement in general play in second half. Subbed for Dan Cole 65 minutes.
2 J George 7.5
Strong involvement and carries over the gain line. Secure throws in lineout. Busy tackler with 10 in the game.
1 M Vunipola 8
Mobile and involved in general play. Important big tackle leading to knock on by Taufua near Lions line, one of an eleven game high tackles in the game. Strong bustling burst in second half. Subbed for Jack McGrath (6) 61m.
15. Israel Dagg 6
Classy touches, booming punts. Safe under a high ball. Tried to create space with offloads but cover swallowed up the half chances. Never enough space to express himself.
14. S Tamanivalu 5
Barely sighted in the first half. A few bursts in the second without catching the eye. The Lions targeted his side for their most threatening bursts during the game.
13. J Goodhue 7.5
Strong and accurate tackling and passing. Unable to showcase his attacking threat in the first half but electric burst cutting Farrell in half and putting through an excellent grubber.Looked Test class and one of the few bright spots for the disappointing Crusaders attack.
12. D Havili 5
Not sighted in the first half as very little momentum or broken play. Slipped when a counterattack opportunity was on in closing stages of first half. Fullback or wing a better position for him as he needs more space for his jinking runs.
11. G Bridge 5
Good takes under the high ball and strong defensively in the first half. Missed open line when failing to pick up Goodhue’s kick and a few more errors under high ball conceding turnovers in an error-ridden second half. Opportunities like these must be taken to move up to Test level.
10. R Mo’unga 5.5
Nervy beginning with a few drops but began to grow into the game. Good break later in the half. Some accurate cross kicks. Played conservatively with lots of long punts and not trusting his instincts. Disappointing night for a player with such potential.
9. B Hall 5.5
Good burst linking with Matt Todd in the first half. Efficient without being influential.
8. J Taufua 5.5
Dropped a crucial lineout 35 minutes. Strong tackling but not the same impact as his opposite in red. The Crusaders missed the steadying influence of injured All Black captain Kieran Read at no. 8.
7. M Todd 6.5
Strong support play in first half. Didn’t make much impression on the attack with the stop-start play. Game-high 14 tackles with three misses. Probably didn’t do enough to make Steve Hansen regret his loose forward choices.
6. H Bedwell-Curtis 6
A big step up for the inexperienced player and industrious with 11 tackles without adding much going forward.
5. S Whitelock (capt) 6.5
Important steal just before half time. Big involvement in drives in the second half without making much ground. Suffered his first loss as captain of the Crusaders and will not be happy with this error-ridden performance. A whopping 21 turnovers in the game is one glaring statistic for the captain to underline for the post mortem.
4. L Romano 5.5
Errors in the line out and kick off. Busy start to the second half with strong tackling but not much penetration in drives and part of a Crusaders pack which could not build phase play particularly in mauls, where their success rate was just 40%.
3. O Franks 6
Had a frustrating time with referee interpretations in the scrums in the first half. Busy tackler.
2. C Taylor 5.5
Under pressure in the lineout. Not a confidence building stint in terms of lineout throwing in rehearsal for his test duties.
1. J Moody 5.5
A real battle with his opposite in the scrums. Penalised three times for burrowing in by waspish French referee. Good tackling around the park with nine during the game, without asserting any dominance. Hansen will be worried about his continuing trait of giving up penalties.