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Majestic Chiefs stun Crusaders after the hooter

Rameka Poihipi from the Chiefs goes over on the corner

CHRISTCHURCH, NEW ZEALAND - MARCH 12: Rameka Poihipi from the Chiefs goes over on the corner for the match winning try as Fergus Burke from the Crusaders arrives too late during the round four Super Rugby Pacific match between the Crusaders and the Chiefs at Orangetheory Stadium on March 12, 2022 in Christchurch, New Zealand. (Photo by Peter Meecham/Getty Images)

The Chiefs edged the Crusaders 21-24 in an enthralling New Zealand Super Rugby Pacific derby at Orangetheory Stadium, Christchurch.

The Chiefs ended the Crusaders’ unbeaten in Super Rugby Pacific after a stunning comeback in the Garden City.

This surprise defeat means Crusaders cannot keep hold of the top spot after the Brumbies’ bonus-point win away to the Melbourne Rebels.

In fact, Scott Robertson’s men will drop to third if the Queensland Reds beat Fijian Drua.


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The Waikato men scored two converted tries in six thrilling minutes to overturn an 11-point deficit with less than four remaining to upset the favoured Christchurch juggernaut.

The Chiefs outscored the Crusaders three tries to two.

Shaun Stevenson bagged a brace, and Rameka Poihipi won the game with his maiden Super Rugby try in the 82nd-minute.

Poihipi’s score sent his team, coaching staff, and away supporters into delirium as they celebrated their first away win at Orangetheory Stadium in seven matches going back to 2016.

David Havili and Braydon Ennor scored either side of the break for the hosts.

Robertson’s looked to have secured an 11th Super Rugby win on the trot. But two late tries from Clayton McMillan’s fighters extinguished the home team’s impressive record.

Stevenson scored with four minutes remaining to make it a four-point game after Bryn Gatland converted.

The try gave visitors hope of a first win in Christchurch in more than six years – as well as avenging last year’s Super Rugby Aotearoa final defeat to the Crusaders.

As the clock ticked into added time, the Chiefs surged towards the line.

The pressure and intensity finally broke their opponent’s spirits when substitute Poihipi dived over in the corner to win the game.

Gatland was excellent from the kicking tee. He slotted a penalty and all three conversions (two from the touchline with the game in the balance), as well as setting up the match-winning try.

Richie Mo’unga added three penalties and a conversion on his long-awaited return to first receiver.

The Crusaders had led 14-10 at the break as both teams shared a try apiece

Mo’unga, starting for the first time this season, opened the scoring before the Chiefs hit back through Stevenson.

Stevenson beats three defenders to claim the game’s first try after Emoni Narawa’s linebreak and offload set up the winger.

The Crusaders struck at the end of the first quarter when Havili crossed to give the hosts an 8-7 lead.

Mo’unga broke down the blindside before putting a well-weighted grubber behind the Chiefs’ backs.

Pita Gus Sowakula, under pressure from Ethan Blackadder, got back but the bounce of the ball was unkind, and Havili pounced for his 27th Super Rugby try.

Gatland added a penalty on the half-hour but two late Mo’unga goals gave the home team a four-point advantage at the break.

The Chiefs had not won in Christchurch in six years, and a win looked a long way away when Havili’s centre partner Ennor dived over under the posts soon after the restart to open up a two-score lead.

A 10-phase attack ended with Ennor taking Codie Taylor’s inside pass on the angle, and scoring his 21st Super Rugby try under the posts.

However, the men from the Waikato dug deep within and found a way to make their illustrious opponents submit.

The Chiefs had multiple chances but handling mistakes, coupled with an immoveable defensive system, kept them at bay.

Battering ram Sowakula was immense. The marauding number eight was held up over the line before Gatland’s break almost sent Te Toiroa Tahuriorangi away.

Bryn Hall’s last-ditch interception, however, kept the halfback out.

Chiefs dig deep, turn up the tempo, and break Crusaders’ resolve

McMillan’s men kept fighting. After 75 minutes, the Saders had made more than 200 tackles as the Chiefs battered away at the red wall.

Several crucial turnovers in the red zone saw the home team escape.

But the Hamilton side eventually found space on the outside when the Crusaders ran out of defenders for Stevenson’s second score in the corner.

The score stunned the 10-time champions, who were dead on their feet after making 219 tackles to 104.

The Saders spent 11 minutes 34 seconds inside their 22, and the pressure eventually told when Gatland’s skip-pass sent Poihipi away in the corner.

Cue scenes.

Final Score: Crusaders 21 (14) Chiefs 24 (10)

Scorers

Crusaders
Tries – Havili, Ennor
Pen – Mo’unga (3)
Con – Mo’unga
Drop –
Cards –

Chiefs
Tries – Stevenson (2), Poihipi
Pen – Gatland
Con – Gatland (3)
Drop –
Cards –

Match Officials
Referee: Brendon Pickerill
Assistant Ref 1: Angus Mabey
Assistant Ref 2: Dan Waenga
TMO: Glenn Newman

Teams

Crusaders

15 Will Jordan, 14 Sevu Reece, 13 Braydon Ennor, 12 David Havili, 11 Leicester Fainga’anuku, 10 Richie Mo’unga, 9 Bryn Hall, 8 Pablo Matera, 7 Tom Christie, 6 Ethan Blackadder, 5 Sam Whitelock, 4 Scott Barrett (captain), 3 Fletcher Newell, 2 Codie Taylor, 1 Joe Moody

Replacements: 16 Brodie McAlister, 17 George Bower, 18 Tamaiti Williams, 19 Mitch Dunshea, 20 Cullen Grace, 21 Te Toiroa Tahuriorangi, 22 Fergus Burke, 23 George Bridge

Chiefs

15 Emoni Narawa, 14 Shaun Stevenson, 13 Anton Lienert-Brown, 12 Quinn Tupaea, 11 Etene Nanai-Seturo, 10 Bryn Gatland, 9 Xavier Roe, 8 Pita Gus Sowakula, 7 Sam Cane (captain), 6 Kaylum Boshier, 5 Brodie Retallick, 4 Tupou Vaa’i, 3 Angus Ta’avao, 2 Samisoni Taukei’aho, 1 Aidan Ross

Replacements
: 16 Bradley Slater, 17 Ollie Norris, 18 George Dyer, 19 Naitoa Ah Kuoi, 20 Tom Florence, 21 Cortez Ratima, 22 Rameka Poihipi, 23 Rivez Reihana

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