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Lions through to the Super Rugby semi-finals with Crusaders win

The match was frantic from the first whistle, with the men from JHB catching the visitors off guard.

Picture: Supplied.

JOHANNESBURG - Both the odds and the history books were against them, but the Emirates Lions put in an impressive effort to overcome multiple winners the Crusaders 42-25 in the Super Rugby quarter finals in Johannesburg on Saturday night.

The match was frantic from the first whistle, with the men from Johannesburg catching the visitors off guard in the first couple of minutes when Courtnall Skosan used his blistering pace to get the first try of the match.

The early score seemed to shock the Crusaders for the first part of the first half, with the Lions looking the much better side before the men from Canterbury got into their stride. Johan Ackermann's troops held firm in defense for a long time, but eventually Ryan Crotty got a well-deserved try for his side for all their dangerous possession.

It seemed to be hanging in the balance as the half time whistle approached, before the Lions bounced back through Malcolm Marx right on the stroke of the break. It was the mental advantage that the Lions needed going into the tunnel because the Crusaders were never going to simply give up, and started the brighter side in the second period, grabbing the first points through Richie Mo'unga.

The last quarter was a tense one at Emirates Airlines Park, with the Crusaders putting heavy pressure on the hosts, but it wasn't to be with the Lions showing their now trademark mental strength on defense.

Desperation crept in for the Crusaders at the clock wound down, with Ruan Combrinck and Ross Cronje taking advantage of the space given by the visitors to put enough points on the board to take the game away from the seven time Super Rugby winners.

Johan Ackermann now finds his team in tough semifinal company, alongside the Hurricanes and Highlanders fresh from their wins over the Sharks and Brumbies.