Chris Rattue

Chris Rattue is a sports columnist for the New Zealand Herald.

First Take: Crusaders attack lacking in win

Johnny Mc nicholl and Matt Todd of Crusaders are tackled by Courtnall Skosana with Andries Coetzee looking on of Lions. Photo / Getty Images
Johnny Mc nicholl and Matt Todd of Crusaders are tackled by Courtnall Skosana with Andries Coetzee looking on of Lions. Photo / Getty Images

Crusaders 28
Lions 7

The Crusaders broke the visitors' Super 15 duck in South Africa but there wasn't too much to write home about in a win over the scratchy Lions.

They did a lot of the basics right apart from some surprising scrum problems. But the Crusaders' attack wasn't all that distinguishable from the laboured machine that has plodded through the season so far.

Read: Milestone for Crusaders as they bounce back against Lions

They weren't distinguishable enough from the Lions either. The Crusaders wore dark jerseys atop red shorts, and the home side vice versa. The result was something of a dogs breakfast.

Picky you say? But how hard is it to get teams playing in truly contrasting kit?

Slowly, the visitors did extricate themselves from this eyesore to look the more impressive of the two. But it was marginal.

Opportunist tries to the excellent Ryan Crotty and plucky Andy Ellis made the big difference. There were a few plus factors in terms of individual performances.

All Black fullback Israel Dagg looked a little more comfortable perhaps, Colin Slade steered clear of killer bloopers, and wing Johnny McNicholl had a couple of confidence building moments. An away victory on the tough high ground was achieved without Kieran Read.

But no one should yell: "Watch out for the Crusaders - they're back".

Todd Blackadder's crew looks like they will keep grinding away searching for a spark to rely on, and fall short. That might seem harsh in winning circumstances, but these Crusaders remain unconvincing against their old standards and the competition's best attacks.

- NZ Herald

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