Farrell boots Lions to critical win

by Sam Phillips

The boot of Owen Farrell and a remarkable defensive effort has put the Lions back on track, as they emerged from a brutal battle against the Crusaders with a 12-3 win.

This was a completely different Lions outfit to the one that lost to the Blues on paper and they played like a completely different outfit on field.

There was more intensity at the breakdown, better physicality at the tackle and the attack looked to have far more punch than it did against the Barbarians and the Blues.

Connor Murray and Owen Farrell controlled the match with their astute kicking and the chases were there to ensure the Lions played in Crusaders territory.Ben Te'o impressed tonight. Photo: Getty ImagesBen Te'o starred in his second Lions start, threatening to break the line with every touch.

Te'o shifted to 13 when Jonathan Davies was forced from the field late in the first half and that meant Johnny Sexton came on at 12.

The two playmaker setup worked very well for the tourists and Warren Gatland could do worse than rolling out Murray, Farrell, Sexton and Te'o as his midfield quartert in a fortnight's time.

There was more enterprise with ball in hand, as the tight five ran straight, hard lines to get over the gain line and put the Crusaders line under pressure.Tadhg Furlong and the Lions tight five dominated the contest. Photo: Getty ImagesIll-discipline from the Super Rugby title favourites also proved costly, as Farrell kept the scoreboard ticking over and continued to pin the home side in their own half with penalty kicks deep into the 22.

Despite all of that, the Crusaders held on and would have been happy to only trail 9-3 as they trotted into the sheds.

The start of the second half was more of the same but Farrell was robbed of another three points at the 50 minute mark - the ball clearly staying inside the post as it sailed over the top, only for the touch judges to wave it away.Owen Farrell was typically accurate off the tee. Photo: Getty ImagesGiven that the tourists had more than 60 percent possession and territory through 60 minutes, the absence of game breakers that can score tries from nothing is a concern.

Anthony Watson came on for an injured Stuart Hogg and he looks to be one of those game breakers.

But even a line break and several threatening runs from Watson couldn't create a five pointer for the Lions, as the Crusaders scrambled like a team playing for their pay packet.

Farrell added another three with 10 minutes and that would be enough to seal a critical victory.


Crusaders 3



Pens: Mo'unga

Lions 12



Pens: Farrell 4