Super rugby Aotearoa

Jordan at the double as Crusaders hold off Chiefs

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The Crusaders beat the Chiefs 18-13 in an attritional Super Rugby Aotearoa derby at Orangetheory Stadium, Christchurch.

Will Jordan grabbed a brace either side of half-time, assisted both times by Sevu Reece to continue the Crusaders’ good start to the tournament.

Jordan was immense. Solid at the back, taking everything in the air, and finishing two opportunities after Chiefs’ mistakes, he made all the difference for his team.

Scott Robertson’s men are almost unbeatable at home, taking their impressive record to 18 wins in 20 New Zealand derbies.

The victory also extended his side’s home record to 43 wins from 46 Super Rugby matches in Christchurch.

The game was played in horrible conditions, which meant lots of kicking, handling errors and minimal scoring opportunities as the two teams probed each other with accurate tactical kicking as they played for good field position.

This was classic Crusaders, a clinical performance built on strong foundations of belief and superb coaching.

The Crusaders led 10-3 at the interval thanks to the boot of Richie Mo’unga, who also had a hand in Jordan’s late first-half try.

Damian McKenzie’s lone penalty was all the Chiefs had to show despite having several opportunities on the Crusaders’ goal-line.

However, nothing came from these attacks as the Chiefs turned down a couple of kickable penalties and McKenzie also missed from a difficult angle with the scores level.

The fullback’s error led to Jordan’s try after he mistimed Mo’unga’s bomb.

Some sloppy play from Aaron Cruden led to Jordan’s second score soon after the restart, which opened up a 12-point margin in a game where scoring opportunities were at a premium.

Mo’unga kept the scoreboard ticking with another penalty, which all but killed off the game as a contest.

Sean Wainui gave his team a chance when he crashed over in the 64th-minute, and McKenzie’s second penalty-goal cut the deficit to five, six minutes later.

Despite a late Chiefs fightback, the Crusaders held on for another Super Rugby victory, while the visitors remain winless from three matches.

Poor weather hampered the game as the players struggled to hold on to the ball

The Chiefs struggled with the wet, slippery conditions making eight handling errors and conceding eight turnovers inside the opening quarter.

Richie Mo’unga opened the scoring with an 11th-minute penalty after Nepo Laulala collapsed a reset scrum.

Opportunities were few as the Chiefs opted for two attacking lineouts instead of taking the points.

The conditions dictated tactics, which the Crusaders used to their advantage, employing a series of Gary Owens on the Chiefs back-three, who battled to take.

After Mitchell Dunshea got caught on the wrong side of a ruck in the 22nd minute, Chiefs skipper Sam Cane finally called for a shot at goal following a long period of possession inside the opposition’s half.

McKenzie levelled from in front.

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The visitors continued to enjoy the territory and possession, winning another clickable penalty after Billy Harmon fell foul of referee James Doleman, who deemed the flanker infringed at the breakdown.

McKenzie, however, missed from near the sideline.

Despite all the handling errors, there were only four scrums in the first half, and one came from a skew lineout by the Chiefs.

Warren Gatland’s back-three continued to struggle with the Crusaders kicking game, and on 33 minutes, the mistake proved costly.

Sevu Reece won the contest for the high ball with McKenzie, who overshot his run and misjudged the ball.

Reece raced into the Chiefs’ half before playing Jordan on his inside after Sean Wainui had committed to tackling the winger.

Jordan cruised to the try-line for the game’s first try. Mo’unga added the extras.

McKenzie spilt another Mo’unga kick, this time a little chip in behind the rushing Chiefs defenders, but Brad Weber gathered the rolling ball and cleared to touch to end the half.

Crusaders pull away after Chiefs’ sloppiness hands the hosts the advantage after the restart.

Where McKenzie struggled with the Crusaders’ kicking game Jordan flourished, taking everything Cruden and Weber threw at him.

The fullback’s solid play allowed the home team to stave off any chances of the visitors feeding off scraps as they continued to probe.

The Chiefs started to throw 50-50 passes and one led to the game’s second try, six minutes after the break.

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Reece took a quick throw, seeing Jordan flying down the sideline and the 22-year-old finishes in the corner. It was vintage Crusaders, who caught the Chiefs napping.

The try came from Cruden’s loose flick-pass that went into touch; a combination of switching off by the Chiefs and opportunism by the defending champions.

By now, the Waikato side’s set-pieces were falling apart; they lost four lineouts on their throw, and their scrum started to creak.

Robertson’s men continued to play the percentages, kicking everything from their half.

The tactic worked a treat, leading to Mo’unga’s second penalty on the hour mark, which extended the home team’s lead to three scores.

Chiefs fightback but Crusaders keep them at bay with superb defending.

Wainui went close before scoring a minute later following an uncontested lineout inside the Crusaders’ 22, barging his way over the chalk, taking Mitch Drummond with him.

McKenzie added the wide conversion to give his side a sniff.

Gatland’s side had their tails up; their handling improved and, using their wingers well, they added three more points after Cullen Grace infringed at the breakdown.

McKenzie made no mistake from in front, making it a five-point ball game with nine minutes remaining.

David Havili missed a long-range penalty moments later, but the Crusaders kept coming.

The visitors had one last chance as the clock ran down, attacking for 15 phases before losing possession.

Another attack ended with a knock-on, and so did the Chiefs’ chance of claiming a first win of the tournament.

Final Score: Crusaders 18 (10) Chiefs 13 (3)

Scorers

Crusaders
Tries – Jordan (2)
Pen – Mo’unga (2)
Con – Mo’unga
Drop –
Cards –

Chiefs
Tries – Wainui
Pen – McKenzie (2)
Con – McKenzie
Drop –
Cards –

Match Officials
Referee: James Doleman
Assistant Ref 1: Ben O’Keeffe
Assistant Ref 2: Mike Fraser
TMO: Brendon Pickerill

Teams

Crusaders

15 Will Jordan, 14 Sevu Reece, 13 Braydon Ennor, 12 Jack Goodhue, 11 George Bridge, 10 Richie Mo’unga, 9 Bryn Hall, 8 Whetu Douglas, 7 Billy Harmon, 6 Cullen Grace, 5 Mitchell Dunshea, 4 Sam Whitelock, 3 Michael Alaalatoa, 2 Codie Taylor (captain), 1 Joe Moody

Replacements: 16 Brodie McAlister, 17 George Bower, 18 Oliver Jager, 19 Luke Romano, 20 Ethan Blackadder, 21 Mitchell Drummond, 22 David Havili, 23 Leicester Fainga’anuku

Chiefs

15 Damian McKenzie, 14 Sean Wainui, 13 Quinn Tupaea, 12 Anton Lienert-Brown, 11 Etene Nanai-Seturo, 10 Aaron Cruden, 9 Brad Weber, 8 Pita Gus Sowakula, 7 Sam Cane (captain), 6 Lachlan Boshier, 5 Naitoa Ah Kuoi, 4 Mitchell Brown, 3 Nepo Laulala, 2 Bradley Slater, 1 Aidan Ross

Replacements: 16 Samisoni Taukei’aho, 17 Reuben O’Neill, 18 Ross Geldenhuys, 19 Adam Thompson, 20 Mitchell Karpik, 21 Lisati Milo-Harris, 22 Kaleb Trask, 23 Tumua Manu

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