The Crusaders beat the Chiefs 31-14 at ANZ Stadium in Suva as Super Rugby returned to the pacific for a second time.
It was everything the encounter promised to be, from nearly every aspect a rugby fan could ask for, not the least of which was from a physical standpoint. Within the first 20-minutes alone, each side had lost a man to concussion (Sam McNicol for the Chiefs and Ryan Crotty for Crusaders).
The Chiefs held the advantage at halftime (17-13) and had scored three tries to the Crusaders one.
The men from the Waikato came into the game with history on their side having won the last four encounters against the Crusaders. Also undefeated against kiwi opposition in 2017; the Chiefs looked as if they had brought their best to Suva – but you’ve got to play 80-minutes of rugby.
The Crusaders took control of the game in the Second Half, scoring two tries, one of which thanks to a blistering line break by in-form first five Richie Mo’unga. This was perhaps the best example of brilliance from a Crusaders side that improved as the match went on.
A lack of composure on the offside line saw the Chiefs fall too far behind in the penalty count. Threatening to snatch the win late when Aaron Cruden scored, the Chiefs line out fell apart at crucial moments when the game was on the line.
Crusaders 31 – Tries: Heiden Bedwell-Curtis, David Havili, Ben Funnell Penalties: Mo’unga (3) Conversions: Mo’unga (2)
Chiefs 24 – Tries: Tim Nanai-Williams, James Lowe, Kane Hames, Aaron Cruden, Penalties: Conversions: Cruden (1), McKenzie (1)
Crusaders Beat Chiefs Thanks To Brilliant Fight Back
There was a lot of excitement in Suva ahead of the game; and like it had been when the teams met at the same venue last year, the crowd cheered both teams.
While the quality of the game was great, some of the decisions by the entire refereeing staff were questionable at best. A forward pass, described as “a line ball” by Sky Sport commentator Grant Nisbett, led to a David Havili try which put the Crusaders into the lead.
The Chiefs, however, were the complete and total masters of their own demise. Too many off side penalties, but also a crucial breakdown in communication at line out time would ultimately cost them a chance to win.
What’s more, the Crusaders won this match without scoring as many tries as their opponents. The Chiefs can take solace in getting the bonus point, but they have a look to work on from here.
“Main photo credit”