History maker Robertson hails Crusaders defence

Sun, 06 Aug 2017 02:18

REACTION: History-making Crusaders coach Scott Robertson praised his team's defence for winning them the Super Rugby Final against the Lions at Ellis Park on Saturday.

The new champions held out against a ferocious late comeback to win 25-17 in Johannesburg against a home side reduced to 14 men by Albertus Smith's red card just before half-time.

Loose forward Smith was sent off for playing Crusaders fullback David Havili in the air.

Crusaders were leading 12-3 at that stage, thanks to some massive defence on the gainline, but the final briefly threatened to be one-way traffic as they extended that advantage to 25-3 after 52 minutes.

But the Lions roared back with two converted tries, before being denied by the stout Crusaders defence.

Victory for the New Zealand team means Robertson is the first person to have won Super Rugby finals as a player and a coach.

The former loose forward was part of three title runs between 1998 and 2001, with the Crusaders now having claimed an eighth crown, five more than any other team, but their first since 2008.

They are also the only team to win a final overseas, beating the Brumbies in Canberra in 2000, and now becoming the first team to cross the Indian Ocean and claim the title.

"That was an incredible game of rugby between two desperate teams. We gave the ball back to a 14-man side and by the end our guys were out on their feet," Robertson said.

"It showed just how hard it is to win here. Our defence won us the championship, there is no doubt.

"We got our points early because we know no team can chase the Lions in the last 20 minutes.

"We are the only team to do it, it is what the Crusaders do, we work hard for the opportunity to create history.

"To do it in this incredible Ellis Park cauldron just adds another part of history.

"And every time people ask us about not having won the trophy for a while - well now we won't hear that question for a while."

The Crusaders coach said he sympathised with Smith for being sent off in such a crucial game.

"The process was correct, Jaco Peyper [referee] was clear and calm. But it is a shame it had to happen in a final and especially for Kwagga Smith, who has had an unbelievable season.

"It probably did affect the outcome to an extent, and it was a shame for the Lions because they have had some season," Robertson added.

The coach praised his forwards for nullifying the Lions' line-out drive threat, from which they have scored many tries this season.

"We know the maul has delivered many tries for the Lions and to not concede one this evening was testament to the work of forwards coach Jason Ryan," he said.

"That was a key point of the game because the Lions are a big team off that platform."

Agence France-Presse

There are currently no matches being played
Sat, 24 March 2018
Kings v Treviso 13h00 Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium
Saracens v Harlequins 15h00 London
London Irish v Gloucester 15h00 Madejski Stadium
Sale Sharks v Worcester Warriors 15h00 AJ Bell Stadium
Stormers v Reds 15h15 Newlands
Cardiff Blues v Ulster 15h15 Cardiff Arms Park
Munster v Scarlets 17h30 Thomond Park
Newcastle Falcons v Northampton Saints 17h30 Kingston Park
Ospreys v Leinster 19h35 Liberty Stadium
Jaguares v Lions 19h40 Estadio Jose Amalfitani
Sun, 25 March 2018
Leicester Tigers v Wasps 15h00 Welford Road
Fri, 30 March 2018
Chiefs v Highlanders 06h35 Hamilton
Rebels v Hurricanes 08h45 Melbourne
Scarlets v La Rochelle 17h30 Parc y Scarlets
Sat, 31 March 2018
Blues v Sharks 06h35 Eden Park
Brumbies v Waratahs 08h45 Canberra
Sat, 24 March 2018
Hurricanes v Highlanders 29 | 12
Sunwolves v Chiefs 10 | 61
Fri, 23 March 2018
Bath v Exeter Chiefs 18 | 20
Dragons v Cheetahs 17 | 29
Glasgow Warriors v Zebre 68 | 7
Connacht v Edinburgh 22 | 29
Rebels v Sharks 46 | 14
Crusaders v Bulls 34 | 14
Mon, 19 March 2018
CUT-Ixias v UCT-Ikeys 23 | 30
Wits v NWU-Pukke 31 | 35
Shimlas v NMMU-Madibaz 28 | 22
UP-Tuks v UJ 30 | 30
Sun, 18 March 2018
Waratahs v Rebels 51 | 27
Sat, 17 March 2018
Jaguares v Reds 7 | 18
Wales v France 14 | 13
Pool AU
Team P W D L Pts
Rebels 5 4 0 1 20
Reds 4 3 0 1 12
Waratahs 4 2 1 1 10
Brumbies 4 2 0 2 8
Sunwolves 5 0 0 5 2
Pool NZ
Team P W D L Pts
Crusaders 5 3 0 2 15
Hurricanes 4 3 0 1 14
Chiefs 4 3 0 1 13
Highlanders 4 3 0 1 13
Blues 4 1 0 3 6
Pool SA
Team P W D L Pts
Lions 5 4 0 1 19
Stormers 5 2 0 3 9
Sharks 5 1 1 3 9
Bulls 5 1 0 4 5
Jaguares 4 1 0 3 4