Crusaders bounced back to winning ways in the Super Rugby Aotearoa after handing winless Chiefs a 32-19 defeat on Saturday.
The hosts were keen to register the first win of the competition while the visitors- Crusaders were targeting to return to winning ways having lost last weekend to Hurricanes. Chiefs will, however, feel disappointed with some calls by the referees.
Chiefs fluffed an early chance to take lead after Damian McKenzie’s penalty miss. Quick hands by Whitelock, Bridge and Taylor at the seventh minute saw Tom Sanders go on a 30-metre sprint to score at the left corner for Crusaders. Richie Mo’unga conversion attempt went wide for a 5-0 lead.
At the 13th minute, Drummond played in Christie, stretching the Chiefs defense and Will Jordan got an easy run in for the second try of the Crusaders. Mo’unga hit the target from the tee to put his side 12 points up.
Chiefs pulled back after eighth man Pita Gus Sowukula picked up the ball at the back of the scrum and fed Leinert-Brown who is brought down short. The ball was recycled to Lachlan Boshier eho scored for a converted try.
Codie Taylor bagged a converted try from a maul for Crusaders just before the break and they ran out for the breather leading 17-10.
In the final half, McKenzie slotted in two penalties and cut the gap to just a point. Mo’unga would stretch the lead at the other end before McKenzie returned to the scoresheet with a penalty to put them a point behind once again.
After 21 minutes of play in the closing half, Jordan offloaded to Strange but the latter struggled to keep the ball and he seemed to have knocked on. Supporting Reece picked the ball and scored and the referee ruled that the ball went back, awarding a try that Mo’unga converted to take the lead to 27-19.
Crusaders would then put the game beyond Chiefs after Mo’unga slipped through a gap and fed Leicester Fainga’anuku who evaded McKenzie to score for a win.
Chiefs: 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 Samison 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.
Crusaders: 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.