After three wins it was their first loss at Ellis Park, but the 21-point margin also marked their biggest defeat this year, while the Crusaders became the first team to win on local soil having crossed the Indian Ocean.
“Credit must go to the Crusaders, I think they dominated our set-pieces, or lineouts and the scrums,” said Lions captain Warren Whiteley after their third loss.
“We were disappointed especially for the (20 000) crowd, we made some wrong decisions, but we’ll come back from this.”
If one have to take a closer look at where it went wrong for the Lions, their five lost lineouts top the list, while the street-wise Crusaders flooded the breakdown and dominated territory.
Having led 6-0 at the break after two Colin Slade penalties, the Crusaders increased their advantage to 13-0 six minutes after the break with a captain’s try by centre Ryan Crotty.
The Lions scored their only points in the 52nd minute when centre Lionel Mapoe crashed over after superb work by flank Willie Britz to close the gap to 13-7.
However they became too impatient, too content in trying to play the game inside their half, while the more clinical Crusaders pinned them back with clever kicking by Slade and fullback Israel Dagg.
The stats from the game showed the Lions only had to make 47 tackles against the Crusaders 95, while both teams missed 13 tackles, but the Crusaders kicked 37 times against the Lions’ 23.
With the score at 16-7 the visitors made the game safe with two more tries by scrumhalf Andy Ellis and wing Kieron Fonotia in the last seven minutes.