There’s a Hamilton in New Zealand that’s celebrating, but it’s Scott and not Hickville as the Chiefs went down 25-19 to the Crusaders in the Vodacom Super 14.
Three tries from the champs, including a fine finish from winger Scott Hamilton, silenced the cow bells and ensured that an off-colour but still clinical performance from the Crusaders was enough to overcome the heart of the Hicks and precise kicking of flyhalf Stephen Donald.
The Crusaders assumed an early 15-6 advantage, and with Dan Carter in typically incisive form, anything other than a Saders rampage seemed unlikely.
A 10 point flurry just before half-time, however, consisting of a Donald penalty and Sitiveni Sivivatu try, stole momentum at a crucial stage.
After absorbing over 30 minutes of pressure, the Hicks held the lead. And they continued to hold it until the 62nd minute when a speedy counter-attack saw No 8 Mose Tuiali’i dotting down the crucial five pointer.
It was fair reward for the hardworking Crusaders pack, who dominated set phase possession and ultimately provided the platform from which their side should have assumed greater dominance on the scoreboard.
Leon MacDonald was outstanding from fullback. Similarly Sivivatu for the Hicks. Both cut the opposition line with regularity.
The Crusaders will depart Hickville with two waves of relief. They were a last minute lineout, which the Chiefs botched, from losing their first game of the competition. And, of course, they get to leave Hickville.
A bonus point is the consolation for the cow bell ringers.
Try: Sitiveni Sivivatu
Con: Stephen Donald
Pens: Donald 4
Tries: Dan Carter, Scott Hamilton and Mose Tuiali’i
Cons: Carter 2
Pens: Carter 2
THE MOMENTS THAT MATTER
68 mins: The Hicks ain’t giving up, and they work themselves back into the Crusaders half. Another penalty is conceded, but Donald pushes it. That’s a crucial miss. (Donald 5/6)
62 mins: The Chiefs are finally broken. It’s a lightning counter from a turnover on halfway…the pace of Rico Gear stretches the Hicks and he finds Tuiali’i inside him. He has the pace and the momentum. Carter converts. (Carter 4/5)
54 mins: Crusaders have their third telly-ref referral of the game, with the answer again not one they welcome. They continue to pile on the pressure, and the Chiefs finally crack. Penalty is conceded and Carter nails it. (Carter 3/4)
46 mins: Crusaders ill-discipline costs them another three points as the Chiefs continue to absorb pressure well. (Donald 5/5)
40 mins: 10 point flurry from the Hicks! It’s a pretty average build-up, then brilliance. Donald weights a perfect kick into space, Crusaders hooker Corey Flynn has a ‘mare and Sitiveni Sivivatu pounces. He’s under the sticks, and the Chiefs steal the lead at halftime. (Donald 4/4)
38 mins: Hicks absorb a mountain of pressure, including two telly-ref referrals, and eventually break out of their half. A line-out infringement gives them the penalty, and Donald gives them the points. (Donald 3/3)
16 mins: Hicks do it AGAIN. From the kick-off after scoring a penalty, they stuff up the gather…it’s cleaned up by Tuali’i who finds Casey Laulala in space. It’s a pass across to Scott Hamilton who finished in the corner brilliantly. Carter can’t convert from the touchline (Carter 2/3)
15 mins: Sustained Hicks pressure sees the Crusaders scrambling well. Mose Tuali’i breaks the discipline though, and goes off his feet to make the turnover. Donald takes advantage of the resultant penalty (Donald 2/2)
8 mins: It’s calamity for the Hicks as from the kick-off Donald attempts to gain ground. His kick is charged down by the master Dan Carter and he controls the ball to score and convert. (Carter 2/2)
7 mins: Hicks control possession well through a number of phases. Sam Tuitupou makes the half-break and quick ball sees the Hicks within 10. Crusaderrs are penalised on the floor, and it givs Stephen Donald the chance to equalise. It’s not easy, but he smacks it over. (Donald 1/1)
1 min: The Hicks concede a penalty within 12 seconds. It’s Marty Holah who makes a blatant shoulder charge whilst jumping for the kick-off. Dan Carter nails it from in front. (Carter 1/1)