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Chiefs fight back to defeat Crusaders in epic for the ages

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The Chiefs beat the Crusaders 40-27 with an exhilarating comeback for the ages in this thrilling New Zealand derby at ANZ Stadium, Suva, in Fiji.

Tumua Manu and Shaun Stevenson scored two late tries as the Chiefs won a scintillating game of footy in a comeback for the ages.

The Crusaders could have won the game had it not been for Chiefs captain fantastic Sam Cane.

Cane won two crucial turnovers in the red zone during two sustained Crusaders attacks in the last five minutes.

The match was end-to-end in the South Pacific archipelago as the two New Zealand sides produced a classic Super Rugby game.

The game has it all: a body-blow; a big comeback, counter-punches, the knock-down before, finally, the knockout, as the two sides racked up 10 tries and 67 points.

The game was one for the ages.

The first-half was an exhibition in Super Rugby’s madness and greatness, deserving of the boisterous supporters who filled the stadium, waving a sea of flags.

The second-half, crazy. It was wild. An end a game of this stature deserves.

Super Rugby Video Highlights, Round 16: Chiefs versus Crusaders, Suva, Fiji

The Crusaders shot to a commanding 20-point lead after 21 minutes, but the Chiefs clawed their way back into the game.

Scott Robertson’s side broke the record for tries in a 15-team Super rugby season when they scored their fourth, taking their tally to 63 tries in a campaign.

The Chiefs twice fought back to within a point; they would not give up, or give in.

They took a shock lead in the 67th-minute when Stevenson broke the line, put on the afterburners, and raced 45 metres to make it 31-27.

Jack Debreczeni missed a long-range penalty with three minutes remaining, however, it created the final dagger.

Richie Mo’unga tried a quick 22 drop-out, but Manu saw his chance.

Manu raced forward, jumped above the towering Kieran Read.

the 26-year-old snatched the ball from the grasp of All Black great and ended the game, taking away the losing bonus-point, too.

Cue scenes.

Chiefs comeback stun Crusaders as Cooper’s men fight back

The Waikato franchise, though, scored three tries in eight minutes to reduce the deficit to one at the break.

Solomon Alaimalo, Samisoni Taukei’aho and Jesse Parete crossed for the Chiefs, to the delight of the crowd, as the game broke up and the points flowed like an island waterfall.

Both defences tired in the Fijian humidity.

Richie Mo’unga opened the scoring with a 10th-minute penalty before the floodgates opened.

Moments after the restart, Scott Barrett raced 40 metres after a Ryan Crotty intercepts on halfway.

The defending champions raced into a big lead through Mitchell Drummond and hometown hero Sevu Reece.

Reece dotted down in the corner, to the delight of the crowd, which was full of family members.

The chiefs looked broken, they had shipped 12 tackles and lost five turnovers as the Crusaders put their foot down.

Chiefs coach Colin Cooper must have feared the worst because his charges looked dead on their feet.

The Crusaders looked unstoppable, going close a couple of times.

Reece could have scored from a cross-kick, too.

Second-half continues where the first left off

Temperatures on the island pushed 30 degrees Celcius, but it was the Chiefs that were bringing the heat, now.

The Crusaders started hot, again, scoring after a sustained attack soon after the restart.

Braydon Ennor finished off a swift move from the Saders’ backs to extend.

The Chiefs, however, hit back four minutes later.

Brad Weber crossed after a scintillating attack after Jack Debreczeni’s line-break.

The Chiefs shifted the ball like a hot potato, offloading as though it was the NBA before the scrumhalf crossed.

Debreczeni made it a one-point game for the second time in the clash.

Angus Ta’avao thought he had scored, soon afterwards, but the referee ruled that he lost the ball forward during grounding. TMO Shane McDermott concurred.

With less than 13 minutes remaining, the Chiefs took a shock lead when Stevenson opened up the Crusaders and sped away for Waikato’s fifth five-pointer.

The Crusaders kept coming; the chiefs kept them out.

Cooper’s men held the Saders to just seven second-half points, scoring three converted tries, themselves.

Mistakes crept in as the teams tired in the heat.

Cane came to the rescue twice, pilfering two turnovers to save his side.

As time ran down, the Chiefs had a chance to end the game with a long-range penalty, but Debreczeni missed.

It did not matter because Manu provided the coup de grâce.

Final Score: Chiefs 40 (19) Crusaders 27 (20)

Scorers

Chiefs
Tries – Alaimalo, Taukei’aho, Parete, Weber, Stevenson, Manu
Pen –
Con – Debreczeni (5)
Drop –
Cards –

Crusaders
Tries – Barrett, Drummond, Reece, Ennor
Pen – Mo’unga
Con – Mo’unga (2)
Drop –
Cards –

Match Officials
Referee: Ben O’Keeffe
Assistant Ref 1: Glen Jackson
Assistant Ref 2: James Munro
TMO: Shane McDermott

Teams

Chiefs

15 Solomon Alaimalo, 14 Shaun Stevenson, 13 Anton Lienert-Brown, 12 Alex Nankivell, 11 Sean Wainui, 10 Jack Debreczeni, 9 Brad Weber, 8 Pita Gus Sowakula, 7 Sam Cane (captain), 6 Lachlan Boshier, 5 Tyler Ardron, 4 Jesse Parete, 3 Nepo Laulala, 2 Samisoni Taukei’aho, 1 Atu Moli.

Replacements: 16 Bradley Slater, 17 Aidan Ross, 18 Angus Ta’avao, 19 Daymon Leasuasu, 20 Mitchell Jacobson, 21 Te Toiroa Tahuriorangi, 22 Marty McKenzie, 23 Tumua Manu.

Crusaders

15 David Havili, 14 Sevu Reece, 13 Jack Goodhue, 12 Ryan Crotty, 11 Braydon Ennor, 10 Richie Mo’unga, 9 Mitchell Drummond, 8 Kieran Read, 7 Billy Harmon, 6 Whetukamokamo Douglas, 5 Sam Whitelock (captain), 4 Scott Barrett, 3 Michael Alaalatoa, 2 Andrew Makalio, 1 Joe Moody.

Replacements: 16 Ben Funnell, 17 Isi Tu’ungafasi, 18 George Bower, 19 Mitchell Dunshea, 20 Jordan Taufua, 21 Bryn Hall, 22 Mitchell Hunt, 23 George Bridge.

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