The selection of Murray and Farrell

It was always going to happen, given the timing of the match and their stuttering start to the tour, but Warren Gatland selecting his first-choice halves combination outlined the Lions' intentions for tonight and, from the first whistle, immediately set the tone.

Ireland halfback Conor Murray and England first five Owen Farrell showed exactly why they will be wearing the No 9 and 10 jerseys for the first test, exerting a level of control on proceedings the Crusaders were unable to match.

They did so largely with their respective boots, kicking with accuracy and consistency to turn around the Crusaders, play in the right part of the field and, when allied with a strong chase, allow their teammates to regularly challenge for possession in the air.


The tactic left the Crusaders frustrated and forced them into mistakes. It also prevented the home side from ever finding fluidity and dictated exactly how - and where - the game would be played.

Whitelock's decision and Taufua's drop

The Blues' encounter with the Lions on Wednesday night turned in the moments before halftime, when Sonny Bill Williams scored the try that put his side ahead going into the sheds. And tonight, when the Crusaders could have landed a similarly decisive blow, they saw the opportunity literally slip through their fingers.

Towards the end of the first half, the home side had to come away with points to show for their best period of pressure in the match, earning a couple of penalties and setting up camp on the Lions' line. But after captain Sam Whitelock eschewed the option of an easy three points for the second time, the red-and-blacks were soon left with nothing.

Looking to set up their lineout drive, Heiden Bedwell-Curtis hauled in the lineout and attempted to hand off to Jordan Taufua. But the No 8 never really got a good grasp on the ball and it became dislodged when met well in contact by Mako Vunipola.

The Crusaders' best chance for a try went begging and the Lions went into the break with a lead they wouldn't surrender.

The last - and most pivotal - penalty

That lead did look vulnerable for large stretches of the second half, however, with the second-best attacking team in Super Rugby loitering only six points in arrears. With the explosive talent they boasted in their backline, the Crusaders would have always been confident of finding the solitary moment of magic they needed to edge ahead.


But that opening slammed shut with 10 minutes remaining, when the Crusaders were caught offside while defending their own line and Farrell kicked the penalty that would have at last allowed the Lions' coaches to breathe a little more comfortably.

It was the 10th and most important penalty the Crusaders surrendered, having regularly found themselves victims of French referee Mathieu Raynal's interpretations. The home side's scrum appeared dominant throughout but was instead repeatedly pinged by Raynal, finally winning a penalty to reflect their supremacy in the dying moments of the match.

By that point, the deficit was insurmountable, leaving the Lions to celebrate and the Crusaders with no choice but to try to remember what losing felt like.