Lions captain Warren Whiteley was left frustrated by the Crusaders’ ability to shut down his side’s driving maul during Saturday’s Super Rugby final.
The maul had been the Lions’ biggest weapon coming into the Christchurch decider, but the hosts were not only able to stop it but send it backwards.
‘We tried the peel around the front, we tried one towards the back, we went straight, pretty much did everything that we could and they were just very good. There is nothing else you can say,’ Whiteley said.
Coach Swys de Bruin, who shook his head while his captain spoke, was asked if he thought the Crusaders had used illegal tactics to counter his side’s maul.
‘No, I can’t say if it’s legal or not,’ he said. ‘They just did it so well. We had no movement. As Kwagga [Smith] said, even before he could rip it, we were going backwards. They were right in our faces and right up there.’
Whiteley praised the defence of the Crusaders, who had to make 180 tackles.
‘I don’t know how many times they had to tackle tonight, but I don’t think there’s a side that made them tackle so much,’ he said. ‘So you have to give the Crusaders credit, they were unbelievable tonight, they defended like champions and we’ve got so much respect for them.
‘We had I don’t know how many opportunities, mauls 5m from their line, so the opportunities were there and we created those opportunities through holding on to the ball, through putting pressure on them.’
Photo: Marty Melville/AFP Photo