Chiefs shock Crusaders to end unbeaten run


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The Chiefs shocked the Crusaders 18-5 on Friday to hand the Super 14 leaders their first defeat of the season.

The fast-improving Chiefs, who had won their previous three matches, strode to an 18-0 first-half lead before keeping the visitors at bay to end their run of eight matches unbeaten.

Flyhalf Stephen Donald was outstanding, having a hand in both tries and kicking two penalties and a conversion in a superb tactical display to help his team move up to provisional third.

In the second spell the Chiefs were kept scoreless by the Crusaders, who remain at the top of the ladder, but defended passionately and bested their more fancied opponents at the breakdown.

“We’ve leaked a few tries over the last few weeks and this week we were really focused on our defence and it paid off tonight,” said Chiefs captain Mils Muliaina.

“I’m really proud of my boys, they really stuck to it, and to beat a team that hasn’t been beaten this year was very pleasing.” Intense pressure from the home team stripped the Crusaders of their usual composure and they failed to make the most of their chances.

Flyhalf Stephen Brett missed two kickable penalties and replacement back Nasi Manu fluffed a try after 66 minutes, as the ball slipped from his grasp while diving over the Chiefs’ tryline.

The Chiefs had gone into the break with their sizeable lead after dominating possession and grabbing their opportunities.

All Black Sitivini Sivivatu scored the first Chiefs try after 14 minutes when Donald slipped a pass in the tackle to put the winger clear into the corner.

The loss of lock Toby Lynn to the sin bin for repeated infringements at the breakdown after 26 minutes failed to dent the Chiefs’ confidence.

Three minutes later Donald again played a crucial role in the second try, fielding his own chip kick over the first line of Cruasaders’ defence.

His pass found prop Simms Davison, who broke out of one tackle and charged over for a try converted by Donald.

The flyhalf set the seal on a mighty first spell with his second penalty just two minutes from the break.

Just five minutes into the second period, Andy Ellis scored the Crusaders’ only points after Brett swooped on a badly executed Chiefs clearance from the breakdown.

Two minutes from full-time, Crusaders outside centre Casey Laulala appeared to be knocked out after he clashed heads with Chiefs replacement Dwayne Sweeney, capping a bad night for the competition leaders.

Sapa-AFP –   

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