Super Rugby

Stubborn Chiefs scalp Crusaders




The Chiefs upset the Crusaders 26-25 in a seesawing Super Rugby Aotearoa Round Eight clash at FMG Stadium, Hamilton.

Damian McKenzie kicked a late penalty to give the Chiefs an unlikely but deserved win over the defending champion Crusaders in front of raucous home support.

The Chiefs’ win moves them into second place on the Super Rugby Aotearoa log, while the Crusaders stay top despite defeat in the Waikato.

The win is also the home team’s first in the new tournament against the visitors, who had won eight of their previous 10 Super Rugby games versus the Chiefs.

Clayton McMillan’s charges had endured a record-equalling 11-game losing streak, but have turned things around, winning four on the bounce.

This win, however, was by far the most impressive performance by the Waikato men.

Scott Robertson’s side outscored the Chiefs three tries to two, but ill-discipline and the boot of McKenzie saw McMillan’s men over the line.

Robertson’s men gave away more penalties (nine to seven) and conceded more turnovers (15-13), which proved decisive.

Leicester Fainga’anuku, Will Jordan, and Codie Taylor scored for the Saders, and Richie Mo’unga added two conversions and two penalties, but the usually accurate first-five hit the post after Taylor’s try.

Super Rugby Aotearoa Round 8 Video Highlights: Chiefs vs Crusaders at FMG Stadium, Hamilton

It was a relatively straightforward kick, but the standoff could not land it, and it proved costly in the end.

Taylor scored his sixth Super Rugby try of the season and leads the try-scoring charts, two ahead of Highlanders flyer Jona Nareki.

Lachlan Boshier and Jonah Lowe crossed for the home team. McKenzie, playing flyhalf, converted both tries and kicked four penalties for a match haul of 16 points.

The lead changed hands six times in this seesawing contest, but the hosts prevailed.

Both teams’ set-pieces were solid, with neither pack losing a scrum or lineout, although, the Crusaders did make some handling errors off their lineout.

The Chiefs dominated the breakdown, winning 97% of their 113 rucks, while the Saders won 92% of 64 rucks to go with a lost maul.

The hosts enjoyed just over 50% territory and possession in the first 40 minutes, but by the end of the game it was as much as two-thirds in favour of the home team, such was their dominance after halftime.

Crusaders dominate the first half despite late Chiefs onslaught

The Crusaders led 17-9 at the interval after two tries by Fainga’anuku and Jordan. Mo’unga converted both scores and added a penalty as the champions took control.

Fainga’anuku opened the scoring in the fifth minute after the first sustained period of pressure on the hosts.

McKenzie kicked three penalties, but the Chiefs could not find a way through the visitor’s stubborn defence despite having the better of the chances, territory, and possession.

Mo’unga put the Saders back in front with a 28th-minute penalty before Jordan crossed, two minutes later to extend the Crusaders’ lead.

Jordan was sensational in the first half alone. He made 131 metres (the next most was Mo’unga’s 39 metres), breaking four tackles, while also affecting a turnover to go with his try.

The fullback was solid in the air and dangerous in broken play, the Chiefs struggled to contain him.

Mo’unga’s fancy footwork sucked in the Chiefs defenders. The first-five offloaded to Scott Barrett, playing on the flank, who raced through the lines before sending Jordan away.

The Chiefs dominated the last 10 minutes of the half, but on several occasions, failed to make their dominance count.

McMillan’s men came out of the shed, starting where they left off in the first stanza. This time, however, his side took one of their many chances.

Boshier crashed over nine minutes after the restart, and McKenzie’s conversion made it a one-point ball game.

Alex Nankivell started the attack, breaking through two tackles and racing away. McKenzie went close before Boshier scored near the posts.

But the defending champions hit back immediately when try machine Taylor crashed over after a powerful driving maul.

Mo’unga’s conversion attempt hit the post, but the visitors led by six.

A thrilling finish sees the Chiefs ‘do a Crusaders’ at the death

On the hour, Lowe finished off another multi-phase attack by the hosts after some excellent interplay between the backs and forwards.

McKenzie’s conversion put the hosts back in front.

But a 66th-minute Mo’unga penalty, his second of the game, gave the Canterbury men a slender two-point advantage going into the final quarter of an hour; it was their last points, however.

The hosts kept coming, going through several sustained periods of intense pressure inside the opposition’s half. Although they did not find the chalk again, they bided their time, then struck.

McKenzie to step up – as he always does – and sink the champs at the death.

Final Score: Chiefs 26 (9) Crusaders 25 (17)


Tries – Boshier, Lowe
Pen – McKenzie (4)
Con – McKenzie (2)
Drop –
Cards –

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

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



15 Chase Tiatia, 14 Jonah Lowe, 13 Anton Lienert-Brown, 12 Alex Nankivell, 11 Etene Nanai-Seturo, 10 Damian McKenzie, 9 Brad Weber (captain), 8 Luke Jacobson, 7 Lachlan Boshier, 6 Mitchell Brown, 5 Naitoa Ah Kuoi, 4 Tupou Vaa’i, 3 Angus Ta’avao, 2 Samisoni Taukei’aho, 1 Aidan Ross

Replacements: 16 Nathan Harris, 17 Ollie Norris, 18 Sione Mafileo, 19 Pita Gus Sowakula, 20 Kaylum Boshier, 21 Te Toiroa Tahuriorangi, 22 Bryn Gatland, 23 Sean Wainui


15 Will Jordan, 14 Sevu Reece, 13 Leicester Fainga’anuku, 12 David Havili, 11 George Bridge, 10 Richie Mo’unga, 9 Mitchell Drummond, 8 Ethan Blackadder, 7 Tom Sanders, 6 Scott Barrett (captain), 5 Quinten Strange, 4 Mitchell Dunshea, 3 Michael Alaalatoa, 2 Brodie McAlister, 1 George Bower

Replacements: 16 Codie Taylor, 17 Isileli Tu’ungafasi, 18 Oli Jager, 19 Luke Romano, 20 Sione Havili Talitui, 21 Bryn Hall, 22 Dallas McLeod, 23 Manasa Mataele

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