Super Rugby Aotearoa: Sizzling Chiefs hunting Grand Final spot after last-gasp win against Crusaders

Four wins in a row has the Chiefs in pole position to secure a spot in the inaugural Super Rugby Aotearoa Grand Final.

In front of a jam-packed FMG Stadium in Hamilton, the Chiefs thrilled home fans with a gutsy, come-from-behind victory against the benchmark Crusaders.

It propels the Chiefs to second spot on the ladder, still seven points back from the Crusaders, but with a game in hand, a home final isn't out of the question. 

The Chiefs have two games remaining against the Blues and next week against the Hurricanes, and should the Crusaders slip up against the faltering Blues next week, two wins will see the final take place in Hamilton.

How that all plays out will remain to be seen, but the Chiefs proved their form turnaround was no fluke, matching the Crusaders in every facet on Saturday night. 

Despite trailing 17-9 at halftime, the homeside dominated large periods of play, but couldn't crack a stern red and black wall.

That changed early in the second spell with a Lachlan Boshier try, but the Crusades continued to score points and with three minutes to play they still held a tight two-point lead. 

A ruck penalty awarded to the Chiefs by referee Mike Fraser gave Damian Mckenzie a chance to win the game, and he stepped up superbly, slotting from 35 metres to give his side a 26-25 lead, which they held onto despite a late scare.

It marks the culmination of a four-week turnaround for the men from the Waikato, who dropped their first two games of the season, but two last-gasp wins against the Highlanders and the Blues, a stunning comeback against the Hurricanes and now another thriller against the Crusaders has them in the hunt for the title.

The Crusaders started well, with tries to Leicester Fainga'anuku and Will Jordan and the defending champions leading 17-9 at the break.

Boshier's try pulled that back to one, but a Codie Taylor try minutes later, crucially unconverted by Mo'unga, kept the Crusaders at arms reach.

Jonah Lowe dotted down in the corner with 20 minutes to play, and when McKenzie slotted from the sideline, the Chiefs led for the first time in nearly an hour, but it was short-lived.

A Mo'unga penalty restored the Crusaders lead, which they would hold until McKenzie's heroics with three minutes to play. 

The result leaves four sides in contention for the final, although the Highlanders need a near-miracle series of results to see them book their spot. 

The Crusaders are guaranteed a to be part of the finale, but may have to travel to Auckland or Hamilton if results go against them. 

Chiefs 26 (Boshier, Lowe tries, McKenzie 2con, 4pens) bt 
Crusaders 25 (Jordan, Taylor, Fainga'unuku tries, Mo'unga 2con, 2pens) HT - CRU 17-9

Remaining fixtures 

Chiefs v Hurricanes 
Crusaders v Blues 
Hurricanes v Highlanders 
Blues v Chiefs 

Super Rugby table: 

Crusaders - 23 points 
Chiefs - 16 points
Blues - 15 points 
Highlanders - 14 points 
Hurricanes - 6 points