Lions coach praying for a miracle against Crusaders in Super Rugby final

29 July 2018 - 11:09
By Mahlatse Mphahlele
Lions head coach Swys de Bruin.
Image: Gavin Barker/BackpagePix Lions head coach Swys de Bruin.

Lions coach Swys de Bruin is hoping for a miracle when his charges face the Crusaders in the Super Rugby final in Christchurch on Saturday.

But De Bruin's Waratahs counterpart Daryl Gibson has faith in the Lions and believes that the South Africans can match the defending champions.

The Lions beat the Waratahs 44-26 at Ellis Park on Saturday to book a place for their third successive final. 

But the Johannesburg side are faced with a mammoth task against the Crusaders‚ the overwhelming title favourites who have not lost a knockout match at home in this competition.

Gibson said the adventurous style of play displayed by the Lions should give the Crusaders a run for their money in Christchurch.

“It can be a little bit dewy in Christchurch but I think the Lions are well suited against the Crusaders‚” said Gibson.

“They (the Lions) have an excellent forward pack‚ good set piece strength and they will also be equal to the Crusaders with the scrums and the mauling. 

"The Crusaders are very good with ball in hand. It is going to be a brilliant encounter and also physical and that is the way the Lions must approach them.”

De Bruin talked down their chances against the Crusaders‚ who beat them in the final in Johannesburg last season‚ by saying they would need a miracle.

“What is vital is to try and not make the occasion too big this time around and just stick to what works for us and find a solution to start better‚" he said. 

"I believe in miracles and this team has proven that anything can happen. 

"They are a very good team but there is 80 minutes between four white lines and it is going to be an interesting match."

Gibson’s sentiments were shared by his captain Bernard Foley who said the Lions have enough in the tank to cause a massive upset.

“I think the Lions definitely do have a chance because they are a quality side and they deserved their win against us‚" he said.

"They play a good brand of rugby. They have an aggressive mindset which is something that will put them in good stead if they play like they did against us at the weekend‚” said Foley‚ who also admitted that they are disappointed after tripping one step shy of the final.

“We are disappointed as a team because we came out here to win‚ but I can’t ask for more from the guys. 

"We are disappointed we did not put ourselves in a position to fight for the cup next week."

The Waratahs were reduced to 14 men after 56 minutes with the Lions enjoying a slender three-point lead when Damian Fitzpatrick was shown a yellow card.

Gibson said this was a defining moment in the game.

“It was a team yellow card‚ a tough one but it was the turning point‚" he said.

"Credit must go to the Lions. I felt their scrum and line out maul was at times overpowering and they thoroughly deserved their victory. 

"We knew that they are a good team from the 20 minute mark and it was proved when they exerted pressure from that point to get back in the game. 

"It was what we planned for and we did our best to hold them.”