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Farrell kicks Lions to victory over Crusaders

Farrell kicks Lions to victory over Crusaders

Farrell kicks Lions to victory over Crusaders

The Lions face the seven-times Super Rugby champions in Christchurch on Saturday needing to step up their intensity after a mediocre start to their 10-match tour of New Zealand.

But Warren Gatland's tourists brought an intensity and physicality not yet seen Down Under to silence some of the critics and lift the morale on what shapes as one of the most gruelling and hard tours on record.

The sight of home fans leaving in their droves before full-time will have left every Lions fan sporting a smile: the rugby-mad home crowd were as unhappy in defeat as the much-vaunted Crusaders themselves.

Farrell. The England global looks to have sealed a jersey for the first Test following a commanding performance.

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The Irish halfback was simply outstanding against the Crusaders.

Quick fire: Crusaders scrum-half Bryn Hall gets the ball away from a scrum.

In the first tour game with an Aussie ref the Loons were bemused by many decisions.

The feature of it was his accuracy and the contests it generated in the air. "Get that and you become a better team as you go along".

Elsewhere, Murray's pace, delivery and combination with Farrell was first class.

Owen Farrell booted all 12 points, kicking four of five penalties - although the England fly-half was unlucky with the "miss" that flew over the top of a post and was judged wide.

The Lions' defensive line speed was on show against the Blues earlier in the week, but the effectiveness in the tackle was absent. As the game wore on the Crusaders became more desperate and that manifest itself in both errors and transgressions.

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Minutes later, the Crusaders almost stunned the Lions, and it took an almighty effort from Sean O'Brien to chase Mo'unga after he capitalised on a Farrell knock-on.

The winning try scored by Ihaia West for the Blues was a result of two offloads in a move that started around the halfway line.

"But the Crusaders are on a roll, full of confidence at the moment and full of All Blacks".

"The hosts have not been beaten once this season", said their man on the ground, "so this win will be a real boost for the Lions who mis-fired in their opening two games".

Steve Tew, New Zealand Rugby's chief executive, confirmed that Gatland was among the contenders, along with Ireland coach Joe Schmidt and Montpellier's Vern Cotter, though Hansen's assistant Ian Foster remains the favourite.

But they were "a little bit concerned about the way the referee ruled" and would have to "look at that and see if we can take those decisions out of his hands".

Stuart Hogg won't be too pleased with his teammate, Murray.

Te'o gained 40 metres, the third highest of any Lion starter and the second highest number of carries as he pulled off another all-round performance.

The dynamic and elusive 15 didn't return.

I have always been an Anthony Watson fan. They will get better.

The back row of Sean O'Brien, Peter O'Mahony and Taulupe Faletau were particularly impressive in the absence of captain Sam Warburton, who was missing with an ankle problem.

Locks: Scott Barrett, Brodie Retallick, Luke Romano, Sam Whitelock.

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