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Chiefs show Crusaders who's boss

Date

Evan Pegden

CRUSADERS 19 CHIEFS 24

Nanai-Williams of the Chiefs passes under pressure from Israel Dagg of the Crusaders.

Nanai-Williams of the Chiefs passes under pressure from Israel Dagg of the Crusaders. Photo: Getty Images

It's two in a row for the Chiefs in Super Rugby and after upsetting the Crusaders 24-19 at McLean Park tonight as they showed they must be taken seriously by all other sides.

MATCH STATS

Dave Rennie and his support staff have gambled on a number of young players and, partly due to early injuries, have thrown them in to the heat of battle almost from the outset.

The result is back-to-back wins over the Blues and Crusaders after losing the first New Zealand conference derby narrowly to the high-flying Highlanders.

Some felt it would take time for the new-look Chiefs to build but Rennie's crew have done their homework very thoroughly and it is showing as the belief builds among the players and the huge work ethic that the coaches have stressed from the outset and made a key ingredient of their recruiting is paying off early.

The Chiefs dominated possession and territory for the second week running, although they had to withstand a typically determined Crusaders fightback in the second spell after taking a 16-6 lead to the halftime break.

In the end they scored two tries to the Crusaders' one, emerged triumphant again from the physical battle, stood up and at times dominated in the set-pieces - usually the Crusaders' strength - and for the third week in a row defended outstandingly.

The Chiefs took the game to the Crusaders right from the start and the confidence soared as the much-vaunted red and black scrum buckled and twisted under pressure, conceding turnovers and penalties as 20-year-old rookie Ben Tameifuna had Ben Franks under all sorts of trouble.

The visitors dominated both possession and territory, playing a strong mix of ball-in-hand and kicking for territory to keep the Crusaders pinned back in their own half for the majority of the time.

The only try of the opening spell went the Chiefs' way when inspirational blind-side flanker Liam Messam was driven over in the right corner from a blind-side attack after another solid buildup which featured Sonny Bill Williams taking the ball up strongly, the forwards taking it on and then Messam finishing off before getting the nod from television match official Richard Kelly.

That try came 26 minutes into the half and vaulted the Chiefs to a 13-3 lead once five-eighth Aaron Cruden knocked over the wide-angled conversion.

Earlier, Cruden had kicked the Chiefs into a 3-0 lead in the opening minute of the match, but hit a flat patch with his kicking and missed his next two attempts, Crusaders No 10 Tyler Bleyendaal having levelled the scores at 3-3 in the eighth minute.

Some big Chiefs scrums, strong running from Williams up the middle of the field and great ball carrying from youngsters Tameifuna and workaholic lock Brodie Retallick thus went unrewarded until Cruden finally found his rhythm and range again halfway through the opening spell.

Down 13-3, the Crusaders suddenly looked like the awakened sleeping giant as halfback Andy Ellis and No 8 and captain Kieran Read looked to inspire the match favourites, who were playing yet another home game away from Christchurch.

Messam stopped Read scoring after a blind-side scrum break from Ellis and then Ellis was unlucky not to get a try himself when he was harshly ruled offside with a base-of-the-scrum steal inside the Chiefs' 22.

Bleyendaal and Cruden exchanged penalty goals in the last five minutes and the Crusaders finished the half on attack with Tawera Kerr-Barlow and Tim Nanai-Williams bundling Corey Flynn into touch in the right corner right on halftime.

As the teams trooped under the stands for the 10-minute break, the Crusaders knew they had not been their usual efficient selves with a high error rate under the pressure applied by the upstart Chiefs.

The Crusaders opened the second spell looking determined to finally impose their game on the Chiefs, but again in the conditions made greasy by pre-match rain they let themselves down with their handling and even a stunning break by winger Israel Dagg brought no reward.

A crucial ruck steal by Chiefs fullback Robbie Robinson spoilt a dangerous Crusaders attack at the line, but then Robinson had the ball stolen from him after fielding a high kick and the Crusaders made no mistake this time with centre Robbie Fruean running a great angle to score behind the posts, Bleyendaal's conversion closing the gap to 16-13.

The Chiefs needed to get back into the game and when they worked their way marginally into Crusaders' territory Cruden was handed the ball for a tough penalty kick 50 metres out, the ball just dropping under the crossbar.

But it gave the visiting side much needed field position and when Ellis flicked an awkward pass back to Flynn on the Crusaders' 22m line the resulting knock-on it put the Chiefs in prime attacking territory.

They took quick advantage with the midfield scrum and went left to hammer the corner where pumped up loosehead prop Sona Taumalolo got over in a melee for the try that referee Garratt Williamson awarded when Kelly was unable to give him any reason not to from inconclusive video footage.

Cruden's conversion missed but the try gave the Chiefs breathing space once more at 21-13 - not for long though as Bleyendaal nailed consecutive penalty goals from out in front in the space of three minutes to close it back up to 21-19.

With the Chiefs suddenly on the back foot it took some great defence from centre Richard Kahui - outstanding all game - and right winger Asaeli Tikoirotuma to inspire a rearguard action.

Finally they worked their way back into the attacking half of the field, Cruden chased his own chip kick and Zac Guildford knocked on to give the Chiefs an attacking scrum on the Crusaders' 22m line.

There was no immediate reward apart valuable field position and when Bleyendaal was penalised for not rolling away less than five minutes from the end he made no mistake from 40m out to give his team some breathing space at 24-19.

Not done yet, the Crusaders swept back downfield from the kickoff, Read desperately stretched out for the intercept that would have given his team the winning chance, but he knocked on and the Chiefs were able to clear from the resulting defensive scrum. Their defence held out against phase after phase before the mistake came after the final hooter and the Chiefs had their second win in a row.

The Chiefs now go to Mt Maunganui next Friday night to take on Australia's Brumbies, brimming with confidence after holding their own so far in the home conference.

CHIEFS 24 (Liam Messam, Sona Taumalolo tries; Aaron Cruden conversion, 4 penalty goals) CRUSADERS 19 (Robbie Fruean try; Tyler Bleyendaal conversion, 4 penalty goals). HT:16-6.

Fairfax NZ News

HuffPost Australia

Rugby World Cup 2015

Round 1
Sat, 19 SepTimes shown AEST
ENG -1vs FJI -1 05:00Twic
TGA 0vs GEO 0 21:00Kholm
IRE 0vs CAN 0 23:30MilS
Sun, 20 SepTimes shown AEST
SAF 0vs JPN 0 01:45Brig
FRA 0vs ITA 0 05:00Twic
SAM 0vs USA 0 21:00Brig
WAL 0vs URU 0 23:30MilS
Mon, 21 SepTimes shown AEST
NZL 0vs ARG 0 01:45Wemb
Wed, 23 SepTimes shown AEST
SCO 0vs JPN 0 23:30Kholm
Thu, 24 SepTimes shown AEST
AUS 0vs FJI 0 01:45MilS
FRA 0vs ROM 0 05:00The Stadium, Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park
Fri, 25 SepTimes shown AEST
NZL 0vs NAM 0 05:00The Stadium, Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park
Sat, 26 SepTimes shown AEST
ARG 0vs GEO 0 01:45Kholm
ITA 0vs CAN 0 23:30Ella
Sun, 27 SepTimes shown AEST
SAF 0vs SAM 0 01:45Villa
ENG 0vs WAL 0 05:00Twic
AUS 0vs URU 0 21:00Villa
SCO 0vs USA 0 23:30Ella
Mon, 28 SepTimes shown AEST
IRE 0vs ROM 0 01:45Wemb
Wed, 30 SepTimes shown AEST
TGA 0vs NAM 0 01:45Sand
Fri, 02 OctTimes shown AEST
WAL 0vs FJI 0 01:45MilS
FRA 0vs CAN 0 05:00stadium:mk
Sat, 03 OctTimes shown AEST
NZL 0vs GEO 0 05:00MilS
SAM 0vs JPN 0 23:30stadium:mk
Sun, 04 OctTimes shown AEST
SAF 0vs SCO 0 01:45St James' Park
ENG 0vs AUS 0 06:00Twic
Mon, 05 OctTimes shown AEDT
ARG 0vs TGA 0 00:30KPS
IRE 0vs ITA 0 02:45The Stadium, Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park
Wed, 07 OctTimes shown AEDT
CAN 0vs ROM 0 02:45KPS
FJI 0vs URU 0 06:00stadium:mk
Thu, 08 OctTimes shown AEDT
SAF 0vs USA 0 02:45The Stadium, Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park
NAM 0vs GEO 0 06:00Sand
Sat, 10 OctTimes shown AEDT
NZL 0vs TGA 0 06:00St James' Park
Sun, 11 OctTimes shown AEDT
SAM 0vs SCO 0 00:30St James' Park
AUS 0vs WAL 0 02:45Twic
ENG 0vs URU 0 06:00Manch
ARG 0vs NAM 0 22:00KPS
Mon, 12 OctTimes shown AEDT
ITA 0vs ROM 0 00:30Sand
FRA 0vs IRE 0 02:45MilS
USA 0vs JPN 0 06:00Kholm
View All Fixtures
Round 2
Sun, 18 OctTimes shown AEDT
WinB 0vs RUpA 0 02:00Twic
WinC 0vs RUpD 0 06:00MilS
WinD 0vs RUpC 0 23:00MilS
Mon, 19 OctTimes shown AEDT
WinA 0vs RUpB 0 02:00Twic
Sun, 25 OctTimes shown AEDT
WQF1 0vs WQF2 0 02:00Twic
Mon, 26 OctTimes shown AEDT
WQF3 0vs WQF4 0 03:00Twic
Sat, 31 OctTimes shown AEDT
LSF1 0vs LSF2 0 07:00The Stadium, Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park
Sun, 01 NovTimes shown AEDT
WSF1 0vs WSF2 0 03:00Twic
View All Fixtures
Rugby World Cup 2015
Overall standings
Team P W L D +/- Pts
France 0 0 0 0 0 0
New Zealand 0 0 0 0 0 0
Canada 0 0 0 0 0 0
Tonga 0 0 0 0 0 0
Japan 0 0 0 0 0 0
View all
Rugby World Cup 2015
Overall standings
Team P W L D +/- Pts
Romania 0 0 0 0 0 0
Argentina 0 0 0 0 0 0
England 0 0 0 0 0 0
Georgia 0 0 0 0 0 0
Scotland 0 0 0 0 0 0
View all
Rugby World Cup 2015
Overall standings
Team P W L D +/- Pts
Australia 0 0 0 0 0 0
USA 0 0 0 0 0 0
Italy 0 0 0 0 0 0
Ireland 0 0 0 0 0 0
View all
Rugby World Cup 2015
Overall standings
Team P W L D +/- Pts
Fiji 0 0 0 0 0 0
Samoa 0 0 0 0 0 0
Namibia 0 0 0 0 0 0
South Africa 0 0 0 0 0 0
Wales 0 0 0 0 0 0
View all
 

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