Super Rugby

Crusaders back to winning ways over Chiefs




The Crusaders beat the Chiefs 19-32 in Round Eight of a controversial Super Rugby Aotearoa clash at FMG Stadium Waikato, Hamilton.

The Crusaders are back to winning ways after a five-try to one defeat of the Chiefs, who can be aggrieved with some iffy officiating that killed their chances of a first Super Rugby Aotearoa win of the season.

With 12 minutes remaining, Sevu Reece was awarded a controversial try.

A TMO replay when the ball looked to have gone forward in the build-up play with the score at 19-27.

The Chiefs never recovered despite going close a couple of times at the death.

Scott Robertson’s juggernaut has one hand on their fourth Super Rugby title in a row as they march towards glory.

The Crusaders burst into an early 12-point lead after quickfire scores by Tom Sanders and the elusive Will Jordan before the Chiefs hit back in the second quarter.

Lachlan Boshier and the boot of Damian McKenzie made it 10-12 as the Chiefs fought back, but Shaun Stevenson’s yellow card on the stroke of halftime proved costly.

Codie Taylor flopped over the whitewash following the winger’s card and subsequent driving maul as the defending champions led by seven at the break.

McKenzie (3) and Mo’unga (1) traded second-half penalties as the Chiefs stayed in touch by a point at the hour mark.

Mo’unga missed a penalty before sending Leicester Fainga’anuku away for the Saders’ fifth try of the evening to make it 19-32.

The Chiefs did not give up, however, but they could not overcome the clinical champions.

The win cements the defending champions’ position at the top of the Super Rugby Aotearoa table with two rounds to play.

An eighth defeat in a row keeps the beleaguered Chiefs winless in the tournament and rooted to the foot of the Super Rugby log as they continue to search for that elusive first victory.

Crusaders start strong with two early tries to take a 12-point lead, but the Chiefs fight back to cut the gap to two on the half-hour.

McKenzie missed a long-range effort to give the Chiefs an early lead before Sanders opened the scoring for the visitors in the seventh minute after a well-worked lineout move.

The Crusaders dominated the territory and possession as the Chiefs errors hampered Warren Gatland’s men.

The Crusaders spread the ball through the hands before sending the No 8 racing 40 metres down the right-hand sideline before crashing through McKenzie to score.

Super Rugby Aotearoa Round Eight Video Highlights: Chiefs versus Crusaders at FMG Stadium Waikato, Hamilton. 

The Chiefs missed an attacking lineout, which after 15 phases and a break by Mo’unga, saw the Crusaders counter-attack from deep to score.

The visitors battered the home team’s line before the Chiefs ran out of defenders and Jordan waltzed over from close range to double the lead.

Mo’unga, who missed his first attempt, made no mistake from next to the poles.

Gatland’s charges finally found some momentum, and after a Shaun Stevenson break into the 22, the Chiefs won a penalty after Tom Christie’s offside.

Sam Cane opted for a scrum and two phases later after Pita Gus Sowakula’s drive from the base of the scrum, Boshier bashed his way over.

McKenzie added the extras before landing a 26th-minute penalty to make it a two-point game.

Mistakes prove costly as Crusaders strike on the stroke of halftime.

Some costly handling errors and missed touch-finders came back to haunt the Chiefs.

The Crusaders’pack also started getting on top, winning successive scrum-penalties to take a grip on proceedings and halt the Chiefs’ new-found momentum.

Aaron Cruden, playing his 100th Super Rugby match, missed a touch finder that led to Stevenson’s sin-binning for a deliberate knockdown.

Mo’unga kicked to touch with seconds remaining in the half. The Crusaders went to their driving maul and bulldozed their way to the line.

All Taylor had to do was fall over the chalk. Mo’unga missed the conversion to keep the game at one score as the teams went into the changing rooms.

McKenzie kicked a long-range penalty three minutes after the restart to take time off the clock. He reduced the deficit to four as the 14-man Chiefs looked to limit the damage.

Jordan’s snaking run is stopped when he is held-up by Cruden on the try-line. Jordan should have passed to his support runners for a certain try.

Gatland’s men started to get the upper hand. The Saders made uncharacteristic errors and were profligate when normally deadly in attack, which kept the home team in touch.

A promising attack by Stevenson, just back on the park, led to McKenzie’s third penalty of the night to make it 16-17 on 50 minutes.

Mo’unga, however, cancelled out the penalty with one of his own two minutes later.

Some more ill-discipline by the visitors, and good work at the ruck by the hosts, led to McKenzie kicking another long-range penalty.

It kept the deficit at one point going into the final quarter.

The game changed and momentum shifts back to the Christchurch men after a controversial ref call for Reece’s try.

A sustained 12-phase attack by the visitors led to Quinten Strange’s dropped pass finding Reece, who dotted down under the posts.

Referee Ben O’Keeffe and TMO Glenn Newman, after multiple replays, somehow decided that Strange did not drop the ball forward and awarded the try.

Mo’unga missed a 66th-minute penalty following another big scrum by his forwards. However, he made up for his error when he set up Fainga’anuku.

The Crusaders broke blind, Mo’unga slipped Cane’s tackle and put Fainga’anuku down the touchline to extend the lead to 13.

Mo’unga pushed his conversion attempt wide.

The Hamilton men did not give up.

They went close with a series of attacks on the Saders’ line, but the red wall held firm for another win.

Final Score: Chiefs 19 (10) Crusaders 32 (17)


Tries – Boshier
Pen – McKenzie (4)
Con – McKenzie
Drop –
Cards – Stevenson (Yellow, 40′)

Tries – Sanders, Jordan, Taylor, Reece, Fainga’anuku
Pen – Mo’unga
Con – Mo’unga (2)
Drop –
Cards –


Match Officials
Referee: Ben O’Keeffe
Assistant Ref 1: Paul Williams
Assistant Ref 2: Richard Kelly
TMO: Glenn Newman



15 Damian McKenzie, 14 Shaun Stevenson, 13 Anton Lienert-Brown, 12 Alex Nankivell, 11 Sean Wainui, 10 Aaron Cruden, 9 Brad Weber, 8 Pita Gus Sowakula, 7 Sam Cane (captain), 6 Lachlan Boshier, 5 Mitchell Brown, 4 Tupou Vaa’i, 3 Nepo Laulala, 2 Bradley Slater, 1 Reuben O’Neill

Replacements: 16 Samisoni Taukei’aho, 17 Ollie Norris, 18 Angus Ta’avao, 19 Naitoa Ah Kuoi, 20 Simon Parker, 21 Lisati Milo-Harris, 22 Kaleb Trask, 23 Quinn Tupaea


15 Will Jordan, 14 Sevu Reece, 13 Fetuli Paea, 12 Jack Goodhue, 11 George Bridge, 10 Richie Mo’unga, 9 Mitchell Drummond, 8 Tom Sanders, 7 Tom Christie, 6 Sione Havili, 5 Mitchell Dunshea, 4 Sam Whitelock, 3 Michael Alaalatoa, 2 Codie Taylor (captain), 1 George Bower

Replacements: 16 Andrew Makalio, 17 Isi Tu’ungafasi, 18 Oliver Jager, 19 Quinten Strange, 20 Billy Harmon, 21 Bryn Hall, 22 Brett Cameron, 23 Leicester Fainga’anuku

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