Lions' maul a focus for Crusaders

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Lynn McConnell     31 Jul 2018     Getty Images

Flanker Matt Todd said the Lions had scored a lot of tries during the season from the ploy, including two crucial tries in Saturday's semifinal against the Waratahs.

"It's a real momentum changer for them not just tries, but also getting field position for them and when they were under the pump at the beginning of that game they turned to their maul to get momentum back.

"It's certainly an area we'll have to put a lot of time into this week and have to be good there on the weekend," he said.

The first goal would be to deny the Lions the opportunity to get their maul set up, especially at the Crusaders' end of the field and then they would need urgency to get in and nullify the maul.

Todd said it was pleasing that they were able to implement the plays they had worked on during the week before the semifinal.

The pack was an experienced unit now and there had been pressure on them to perform and they had responded well.

"It was certainly one of our better performances and that is what you want, you want to play your best games in the last games, so hopefully we will this weekend but we are certainly building nicely and it was a good all-round team performance," he said.
Todd said he had watched the Lions game against the Waratahs and their forward pack had been very impressive.

"They get a lot of momentum through them as well so we know we've got to do it all against this week. We're in the final, that's where we want to be but we've to prepare well and come Saturday make sure we're ready to put in another good performance," he said.

Home advantage would be a help and Todd quipped that AMI Stadium was a long way removed from Ellis Park in Johannesburg.

The side were rapt to be able to play the first final in the city in 10 years and with Wyatt Crockett, Kieran Read and Tim Bateman having played in that final in 2008, their experience had been invaluable in helping the team prepare for what lay ahead, he said.

Todd said coach Scott Robertson had proven invaluable in providing fresh challenges for the side each week and over a long season that had been a big help.

It was also important to have a feeling of inclusion in the whole squad because while all had contributed during the season not all could play in the finals yet those who missed out still had a big role to play in the preparation.