August 3, 2018 / 4:46 AM / 8 months ago

Teams spar over forward battles ahead of Super Rugby final

WELLINGTON (Reuters) - The Canterbury Crusaders have ratcheted up the war of words ahead of the Super Rugby final against the Lions after questions were raised earlier this week about the legality of loosehead prop Joe Moody’s scrummaging.

Lions coach Swys de Bruin had said before his side left South Africa there were “a lot of things they (the Crusaders) get away with”, but the home side’s assistant coach Jason Ryan defended his prop on Friday.

“I have heard it all before and it always comes up just before, usually, when we name Joe Moody - just because he is the best in the world,” Ryan told reporters.

“All I know that is when Joe is at his best, there are not may tighthead props, if any, that can hold him down.

“It is more than just Joe. We have to back that our strength as an eight will be good enough.”

Ryan also fired a broadside back at de Bruin and said the Lions tighthead Ruan Dreyer was among the most penalised props in Super Rugby.

“(We) are going up against one of the most penalised tightheads in Super Rugby for two years running,” he added.

“We have got our plan, we know what we want to do. We just want to hit square, we want play channel one, that is what we have done all year and get the ball to the backs.”

The Crusaders’ pack has been the major reason they have advanced to their 13th final and are favourites for their ninth title, but Ryan said they would need to be at their best to stop the Lions’ equally impressive forwards.

The South African side like to dominate the scrum and earn penalties, where flyhalf Elton Jantjies can then kick into the corner and set up attacking lineout drives.

Such is that threat, hooker Malcolm Marx, who is often at the tail of their formation, is the competition’s fourth-highest tryscorer this season with 11.

While the most obvious tactic would be to reduce the number of penalties they concede, Ryan said the home side had also been working on negating the drive this week.

“We’ve put a lot of work into it this week more than we would any other week, because obviously it is their strength,” Ryan said.

“It’s their plan A, plan B and often their plan C as well.

“The key is not to let it start and we’ve got a couple of plans around that which we back ourselves to execute.”

Reporting by Greg Stutchbury; Editing by Amlan Chakraborty

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