Crusaders extend unbeaten run

Photo: File.

The Crusaders have extended their unbeaten Super Rugby winning streak to 12 matches, with a storming second half setting up a 31-24 win over the Chiefs in Suva on Friday.

The win was built around an uncompromising forward effort, slick handling and the ever-reliable boot of first five-eighth Richie Mo'unga.

The New Zealand conference leaders ran in three tries to the Chiefs' four, with Mo'unga adding four penalties and two conversions in a crucial 16-point contribution.

The Crusaders were hit by the late withdrawal of flanker Matt Todd, still recovering from a head knock in last week's bruising 20-12 win over the Hurricanes.

In his absence Pete Samu switched to the openside and Heiden Bedwell-Curtis pulled on the No.7 jersey.

There was little noticeable effect, the Crusaders composed as Mo'unga nailed two penalties to give them an early lead.

While the Crusaders dominated possession and territory, the Chiefs were more clinical in their use of the ball they secured, striking quickly with two tries in two minutes midway through the first half.

Second five-eighth Anton Lienert-Brown set up the first with a sweet inside pass to playmaker Aaron Cruden, who looped a long ball for Tim Nanai-Williams to dot down in the right corner.

Left winger James Lowe grabbed the second when he toed through Cruden's kick ahead in the 23rd minute and Crusaders wing George Bridge couldn't haul in the wickedly bouncing ball.

The Crusaders hit back in the 26th minute, Bedwell-Curtis finishing a move sparked by fullback Damian McKenzie's counterattack and set up by a mazy run from centre Jack Goodhue.

Cruden and McKenzie both shone in the Chiefs' third try before Kane Hames burrowed over from close range to finish a move which featured superb handling and support play.

Trailing 13-17 at halftime, the Crusaders powered back six minutes into the second half, David Havili capitalising on a storming run from Seta Tamanivalu.

Mo'unga scythed through the Chiefs' midfield as the hour mark neared, good support play and a quick recycle allowing Ben Funnell to power over in the corner.

A piece of Cruden brilliance, darting over from an attacking scrum in the 70th minute, brought the Chiefs to within seven but the Crusaders defence held strong to the final whistle.

- NZ Newswire

Leave a Comment