Crusaders blitz hapless Chiefs
The Crusaders kept alive their chances of topping the New Zealand conference with a 43-15 demolition of a hapless Chiefs team on Friday.
The Crusaders kept alive their chances of topping the New Zealand conference with a 43-15 demolition of a hapless Chiefs team in Christchurch on Friday.
It was a 19-point blitz in a seven-minute period that set up this impressive win for Crusaders.
The five tries to two victory means the Crusaders can still overtake the Chiefs in the standings, with all to play for in next week's final round of league action.
The Chiefs must now hope to get at least a bonus point from their trip to Auckland, where they face the Blues next week, while the Crusaders need another full-house (five points) when they host the Hurricanes in Christchurch.
Another interesting fact to come of Friday's encounter is that Dan Carter went past 1500 Super Rugby points.
The Crusaders' big name players were the ones who left their mark on the game - Israel Dagg, Dan Carter and Kieran Read, to name but a few.
As for the Chiefs, they were their own worst enemies. The visitors let themselves down with some poor discipline at the breakdown, from the opening to the last minute, which prompted the referee to give Craig Clarke a stern talking to in the first half.
And the more desperate they became, the higher their error rate climbed.
The Crusaders, who were very direct in their approach, at no stage let up the pressure and by half-time had raced into a 19-8 lead - courtesy of their customary score just before the break. When they added another try inside the first minute after the break - a 14-point blitz in two minutes - the game was over as a contest.
And they confirmed that five minutes later with Read's second try, making it 19 points in under 10 minutes, and then wrapped up the bonus point before the hour mark.
The victory was based on their superior set-piece play and domination of the contact area, which forced many of those errors that cost the Chiefs so dearly.
The Chiefs were made to pay dearly for their early lack of discipline - Dan Carter slotting penalties in the fourth and eighth minutes, before Aaron Cruden replied with one in the 11th minute. Carter added two more - the 14th and 19th minutes - before the first try of the game.
It was Cruden who inserted himself into the game with a great charge-down off Israel Dagg's attempted clearance kick. He regathered and then surged towards the line, but was cut down short. The Chiefs had a penalty advantage and then Kerr-Barlow put in a cross-field kick - Ross Filipo rose above Carter and disrupted the ball and Asaeli Tikoirotuma then pounced to get the five-pointer. Cruden conversion attempt was wide, but at 8-12 the Chiefs were back in the game.
However, the Crusaders were to have the last say in the first half, as Kieran Read had a go for the line off the back of a solid scrum. The TMO was again brought in and this time the call went in favour of the Crusaders. Carter knocked over the conversion from in front, as the hooter for half-time sounded, and the home team took a 19-8 lead into the break.
And when Israel Dagg went over inside the first minute after the restart - the result of a Bundee Aki mistake - the Crusaders ended the game as a contest, 26-8.
That fact was confirmed five minutes later when Dagg again cut the Chiefs' defence open and sent Read over for his second try. The Carter conversion attempt hit the upright, but 19 points in seven minutes gave the Crusaders a 31-8 LEAD.
The Crusaders were now playing to get that much-needed bonus-point fourth try. It came in the form of wing Tom Marshall - with good hands putting him over in the right wing just short of the hour mark. Carter missed another conversion attempt, but at 36-8 bit was job done for the seven-time champions.
All that remained was for the Chiefs to salvage a bonus point, to wrap up the New Zealand conference.
The first of the 21 points they needed for that bonus point came with six minutes to go, Charlie Ngatai going over in the corner and Andrew Horrell's conversion making it 15-36.
However, the Chiefs ran out of time, with their high error count also costing them any late chance of a consolation bonus point.
In fact the game ended with a Chiefs error - a back-handed pass by Tanerau Latimer that bounced off Robbie Robinson's chest, with Tyler Bleyendaal collecting the loose ball and sprinting 60 metres for the try. Carter sealed it with a sideline conversion - 43-15 at the end.
Man of the match: Aaron Cruden had his moments, but the Chiefs were simply not in the game except for a few brief minutes in the first half. Kieran Read, as usual, imposed himself in almost every aspect of the game and came close to winning it. Dan Carter also showed his class by dictating terms. Israel Dagg was again a rock in the last line of defence, especially with those clearance kicks - even though a charge-down of one clearance resulted in the Chiefs' first try. However, it was the way he cut the Chiefs apart on attack that won him our award - just ahead of Read.
For the Crusaders:
Tries: Read 2, Dagg, Marshall, Bleyendaal
Cons: Carter 3
Pens: Carter 4
For the Chiefs:
Tries: Tikoirotuma, Ngatai
Crusaders: 15 Israel Dagg, 14 Tom Marshall, 13 Ryan Crotty, 12 Tom Taylor, 11 Zac Guildford, 10 Dan Carter, 9 Andy Ellis, 8 Kieran Read (captain), 7 Matt Todd, 6 George Whitelock, 5 Sam Whitelock, 4 Luke Romano, 3 Owen Franks, 2 Corey Flynn, 1 Wyatt Crockett.
Replacements: 16 Ben Funnell, 17 Joe Moody, 18 Tom Donnelly, 19 Luke Whitelock, 20 Willi Heinz, 21 Tyler Bleyendaal, 22 Telusa Veainu.
Chiefs: 15 Robbie Robinson, 14 Patrick Osborne, 13 Charlie Ngatai, 12 Bundee Aki, 11 Asaeli Tikoirotuma, 10 Aaron Cruden, 9 Tawera Kerr-Barlow, 8 Matt Vant Leven, 7 Sam Cane, 6 Ross Filipo, 5 Brodie Retallick, 4 Craig Clarke (captain), 3 Ben Tameifuna, 2 Hika Elliot, 1 Pauliasi Manu.
Replacements: 16 Mahonri Schwalger, 17 Ben Afeaki, 18 Michael Fitzgerald, 19 Tanerau Latimer, 20 Augustine Pulu, 21 Andrew Horrell, 22 Tim Nanai-Williams.
Referee: Jonathon White (New Zealand)
Assistant referees: Garratt Williamson (New Zealand), Kane McBride (New Zealand)
TMO: Glenn Newman (New Zealand)