Super Rugby: Crusaders fire late to pump the Chiefs 45-23 in Christchurch

Jordan Taufua scored a first half try for the Crusaders.
Jordan Taufua scored a first half try for the Crusaders. Photo credit: Photosport

The Crusaders have proved they will be the team to beat in 2018 after a 22-point Super Rugby win over the Chiefs in Christchurch.

The 45-23 scoreline was harsh on the visitors, who led midway through the second half and only trailed by three in the 72nd minute.

In a frenetic final few minutes, the Crusaders scored a knockout blow when they were awarded a penalty try after Lachlan Boshier was ruled to have committed foul play on Ryan Crotty.

The final decision of a yellow card and a penalty try will be debated, but under the rules of the game, technically, the officials got the call right.

Those seven-points lifted the Crusaders out of reach, they would then sealed the win with two intercept tries in a three-minutes period.

The Chiefs had fought hard in the second-quarter of the game to claw back a 19-3 deficit to just two-points at the half.

Matt Todd, Richie Mo'unga and Jordan Taufua all scored first-half tries for the 2017 champions, but Damian Mckenzie and Sam Cane combined in the 32nd minute to give the Chiefs a boost.

The next 30-minutes belonged to the Colin Cooper coached side, who took the lead in the 56th minute when McKenzie knocked over a beautiful kick from just inside his own half.

Step-up Sam Whitelock.

The Crusaders captain benefited from a Jack Goodhue break in the 63rd minute when he crashed over the line, taking three Chiefs with him, to earn the homeside the lead back.

The Crusaders captain had the courage to turn down easy points in the final 15 minutes to land the final shot on a weary Chiefs side … a gamble that paid off when the TMO and referee, Ben O'Keefe ruled Boshier had prevented a try from being scored.

Sam Cane and Charlie Ngatai were superb for the Chiefs, while Richie Mo'unga, Whitelock and Matt Todd were the best on display for the red and blacks.

The jury is out on Damian McKenzie as a first-five however. The Chiefs pivot showed moments of brilliance but struggled going backwards  and committed four handling errors.