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Majestic Mo’unga stars as Crusaders rout winless Chiefs

Super Rugby Aotearoa Rd 3 - Crusaders v Chiefs

CHRISTCHURCH, NEW ZEALAND - MARCH 13: (Alternate crop of #1306800496) Chiefs player Damian McKenzie can't stop Crusaders wing Leicester Fainga'anuku from scoring a try during the round three Super Rugby Aotearoa match between the Crusaders and the Chiefs at Orangetheory Stadium, on March 13, 2021, in Christchurch, New Zealand. (Photo by Peter Meecham/Getty Images)

The Crusaders routed the Chiefs 39-17 in a controversial Round Three Super Rugby Aotearoa match at Orangetheory Stadium, Christchurch.

The 11-time defending Super Rugby champions thrashed the woeful Chiefs, scoring five tries to two in a one-sided affair. Led by the magnificent Richie Mo’unga, the champions carved up the Hamilton side.

The Crusaders were awarded a controversial penalty try by referee James Doleman and TMO Paul Williams, four minutes after halftime, for a deliberate knock-down by scrumhalf Brad Weber on Mo’unga.

To make matters worse, the officials deemed the wrong call a yellow card. After rewatching the television replay, it is clear that Weber did not infringe on Mo’unga; instead, the officials made their call off the back of one replay.

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The Crusaders only points while Weber was off the field came from the penalty try, but with the score at 11-10, the game was in the balance.

But despite some stubborn defending by the visitors, the well-oiled red machine marched through for a comfortable victory.

Chiefs begin well, but fade late in the first stanza as the Crusaders found their rhythm

The Chiefs took an early 10-point lead after a sublime converted Damian McKenzie try and a penalty by the fullback.

The Chiefs went through the phases using the quick ball, keeping the Crusaders on their heels. Weber sent the ball wide where Sean Wainui played McKenzie, who had joined the line with a sublime angled run.

McKenzie slipped Leicester Fainga’anuku’s weak tackle, ran through Mo’unga, and barged his way over the try-line. The TMO had to review but ruled in favour of the Chiefs.

Scott Robertson’s side overturned the deficit, scoring 39 unanswered points before Etene Nanai-Seturo’s 73rd-minute try gave the Chiefs their first points since McKenzie’s ninth-minute penalty.

The Crusaders hit back through Fainga’anuku’s sensational corner flag finish and two Mo’unga penalties to lead by one at the interval.

Controversial officiating costs the Chiefs, who never recovered as the Crusaders turned the screw

The game changed after the 44th-minute Weber yellow card and penalty try. Robertson’s side took over. They overturned a first-half two-thirds possession and territory statistic to finish with 63% possession and 71% territory.

Weber’s card only cost seven; however, the opposition increased the intensity as well as the tempo. The visitors had no answer to the onslaught.

Will Jordan, Whetukamokamo Douglas, and Mitchell Dunshea all got in on the act; Mo’unga converted twice, while replacement Fergus Burke converted Dunshe’s score.

Jordan, coming from depth, ran a scything angle at two forwards, gathered Mo’unga’s delayed inside-pass and ghosted through to score under the posts.

On 63 minutes, Douglas sold a dummy and barged over the chalk for the bonus-point score. It was a sublime attack, especially the handling by the home team’s forwards, who offloaded like backs to set up the try.

Mo’unga’s conversion gave his side a 22-point advantage that was in no danger of being overhauled.

Super Rugby Aotearoa Round Three Video Highlights: Crusaders vs Chiefs at Orangetheory Stadium, Christchurch

To be fair, it could and should have been more. Mitchell Drummond had a try chalked off for a slight forward pass, and only some poor handling in the 22 did the Crusaders not score more tries.

With less than 11 minutes to play, Dunshea walked over to dot down the fifth try of the night. It was all so easy, yet so predictable; it is the Crusaders at their best.

Magic man Mo’unga turns on the style

Mo’unga was again at his majestic best, calling the shots at first-five in yet another virtuoso. He cut the Chiefs defence open time and again; he could not be stopped.

The 26-year-old first receiver ran for 58 metres on nine carries, beating nine defenders on three line-breaks. He set-up Jordan’s try with a sublime delayed inside pass and he was instrumental in the penalty-try after a mazy run set-up the score.

The Saders’ pack destroyed their counterparts, winning multiple scrum-penalties while dominating the breakdown. They mauled the lacklustre Waikato side, who just had no answer to the opposition.

Nanai-Seturo pulled a score back for his side, after a sustained attack late in the game, but the contest was over when Weber went to the bin.

Clayton McMillan’s men never recovered, falling for their 11th Super Rugby defeat in a row (equalling the New Zealand Super Rugby record set by the Highlanders in 2013), and eighth in 10 games against the Crusaders.

The win is the fifth on the trot for the Saders against the Waikato men in Christchurch, while the Hamilton-based side continues their poor away form with a fifth consecutive loss.

The bonus-point win keeps the undefeated defending champion Crusaders on top of Super Rugby Aotearoa, while the chastening defeat keeps the Chiefs rooted to the foot of the table.

Final Score: Crusaders 39 (11) Chiefs 17 (10)


Tries – Fainga’anuku, Penalty try, Jordan, Douglas, Dunshea
Pen – Mo’unga (2)
Con – Mo’unga (2), Burke
Drop –
Cards –

Tries – McKenzie, Nanai-Seturo
Pen – McKenzie
Con – McKenzie (2)
Drop –
Cards – Weber (Yellow, 44′)

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



15 Will Jordan, 14 Sevu Reece, 13 Jack Goodhue, 12 David Havili, 11 Leicester Fainga’anuku, 10 Richie Mo’unga, 9 Mitchell Drummond, 8 Whetukamokamo Douglas, 7 Tom Christie, 6 Sione Havili Talitui, 5 Samuel Whitelock, 4 Scott Barrett (captain), 3 Michael Alaalatoa, 2 Codie Taylor, 1 George Bower

16 Brodie McAlister, 17 Joe Moody, 18 Fletcher Newell, 19 Mitchell Dunshea, 20 Quinten Strange, 21 Bryn Hall, 22 Fergus Burke, 23 Dallas McLeod


15 Damian McKenzie, 14 Shaun Stevenson, 13 Sean Wainui, 12 Quinn Tupaea, 11 Etene Nanai-Seturo, 10 Bryn Gatland, 9 Brad Weber (co-captain), 8 Luke Jacobson, 7 Sam Cane (co-captain), 6 Mitchell Brown, 5 Josh Lord, 4 Tupou Vaa’i, 3 Angus Ta’avao, 2 Samisoni Taukei’aho, 1 Reuben O’Neill

Replacements: 16 Bradley Slater, 17 Aidan Ross, 18 Sione Mafileo, 19 Naitoa Ah Kuoi, 20 Kaylum Boshier, 21 Te Toiroa Tahuriorangi, 22 Anton Lienert-Brown, 23 Chase Tiatia 

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