The Chiefs scored three tries to one to beat the Crusaders in Hamilton.
The match was tight throughout, the Chiefs having a slender 15 – 13 lead at half time, but streaked away in the last quarter to win 28 – 19.
The top two New Zealand sides produced a wonderfully entertaining match, keeping spectators on the edge of their seats for most of the eighty minutes. Two of the three tries scored by the Chiefs were somewhat lucky, coming from kicks charged down. Aaron Cruden charged down Dan Carter before Craig Clarke charged down Tom Taylor.
Between the two charge-down tries, Matt Todd and the Crusaders hit back with a forward dominated move. The Crusaders stayed in touch through the boot of Tom Taylor, kicking the conversion as well as four penalties throughout the match.
Bundee Aki scored the only try of the second half, in the last quarter of the match. This came from a period of sustained pressure on the Crusaders tryline. An earlier Chiefs try was ruled out after Steve Walsh went to the TMO, but Aki scored from the same period to even that out.
In terms of the Internationals coming up in June, Aaron Cruden completely outclassed Dan Carter, who didn’t even take the Crusaders’ kicks at goal. His defence was impeccable, as was the rest of the Chiefs’ tackling. Carter has not looked himself in recent times, and this has resulted in the Crusaders’ recent slump in form.
The Chiefs have now all but wrapped up the New Zealand conference, and have gone a long way in assuring themselves of finishing the season on top of the overall log as well. The Chiefs are now off until after the International window, having a bye next weekend, while the Crusaders host the Waratahs next weekend before going into the break.
Chiefs: 28 (15)
Tries: Aaron Cruden, Craig Clarke, Bundee Aki
Conversions: Aaron Cruden (2)
Penalties: Aaron Cruden (3)
Crusaders: 19 (13)
Tries: Matt Todd
Conversions: Tom Taylor (1)
Penalties: Tom Taylor (4)
By Richard Ferguson