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Crusaders 3 British & Irish Lions 12

Liam Williams

The British & Irish Lions pulled off a sensational victory against the Crusaders on Saturday night to reignite the 2017 tour following the disappointing loss against the Blues the last time out.

With their backs against the wall the Lions showed that not only were they right back in this tour, but that they had enough goods to compete with the best side in Super Rugby, and one that contains the bulk of the All Blacks that will make up the test team two week on Saturday.

It was a real statement of intent from the men in red having been written off after the loss in the previous game against the Blues on Wednesday.

It was a solid display from the Lions to restrict the Crusaders to just one kicked penalty.  Indeed it is the first time in two years that the Crusaders have not scored a try.  It was also the first loss for the Crusaders all season having played all the other Kiwi Super Rugby sides and a host of others from Australia and South Africa.  All in all, a solid effort from a thrown together Lions side under a heap of pressure.

There were many potential test combinations on show with some pretty good results.  The lock pairing of captain Alun Wyn Jones and George Kruis looked solid, the back three of Hogg (before he departed through injury) North and Williams looked lively and the half back pairing of Conor Murray and Owen Farrell in particular looked like a test combination in the making.  Farrell’s distribution in particular caught the eye with the fly half throwing flat passes and miss passes with pinpoint accuracy and setting his back line alight. He was also the architect of all 12 of the Lions points.

Head Coach Warren Gatland said “We needed that. That was the most important thing, the result.  I thought our defence was outstanding, line-out was excellent, set-piece pretty good. We are creating opportunities we just need to finish off those chances.”

The British & Irish Lions face the Highlanders on Tuesday under the closed roof in Dunedin.

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