Chiefs start title defence with Crusaders victory

Super Rugby Champions the Chiefs kicked off their title defence with a 10-18 victory over the Crusaders in Christchurch on Friday.

The Chiefs outscored the Crusaders by two tries to one and their second try by replacement James Lowe came in the final minute through an intercept as the Crusaders were looking to snatch the victory.

Both sides looked rusty in their season opener but most of all the Crusaders will be frustrated that they allowed 21 points slip through their fingers in penalty kicks. 

The Crusaders also had two players yellow carded while the Chiefs had one.   

The Chiefs victory came as a result of a massive defensive effort which is certain to frustrate opposition teams throughout the season if they can keep it up.

Replacement fullback James Lowe galloped away for a 75-meter intercept try
in the final minute to clinch the win for the Chiefs and flyhalf Aaron Cruden
added a sideline conversion which denied the Crusaders a consolation bonus point.

Centre Robbie Fruean, who transferred from the Crusaders to the Chiefs between
seasons, opened the scoring with a ninth-minute try which helped the Chiefs
to an early 0-11lead. They protected that advantage under exceptional pressure
for the remainder of the match.

The Crusaders closed to 10-11 with seven minutes remaining and were pressing
the Chiefs line when Lowe pounced on the pass near the right-hand touchline
and dashed away to score his first Super Rugby try.

Cruden’s conversion capped an outstanding victory for the Chiefs who were without
many first-string players and suffered more injuries during the match, yet beat
the team favored to win the New Zealand conference.

Fruean’s try gave the Chiefs an early boost.

The powerful centre, whose career has been dogged by a heart ailment caused
by rheumatic fever, finished a movement which began on the Chiefs’ 22 when he
brushed off three tacklers, including the New Zealand captain Richie McCaw,
to score out wide.

Cruden kicked a penalty in the 39th minute which gave the Chiefs a 0-8 lead
at halftime, while Crusaders flyhalf Tyler Bleyendaal missed five straight shots
at goal before being replaced.

The Crusaders’ only try came in the 48th when lock Sam Whitelock burst through
a poorly defended lineout.

Tom Taylor, who replaced Bleyendaal, landed his first shot at goal by converting
the try, but missed two more attempts before kicking the 73rd-minute penalty
which cut the Chiefs’ lead to one point.

Both teams had a player sin-binned in the first half and the Chiefs were hard-hit
when prop Ben Tamiefuna and lock Brodie Retallick were forced from the field
in the second half after a head clash.

The Crusaders face the Blues in Auckland next weekend while the Chiefs will play the Highlanders in Hamilton next weekend.

Final Score Crusaders 10 (0) Chiefs 18 (8)


Tries – S.Whitelock
Pen – T.Taylor
Con – T.Taylor
Drop –
Cards – D.Bird (yellow 36th min), G.Whitelock (yellow 43rd min)

Tries – R. Fruean, J. Lowe
Pen – A.Cruden 2
Con – A.Cruden
Drop –
Cards – B. Tameifuna (yellow 42nd min)

Match Officials
Chris Pollock (New Zealand)
Assistant Ref 1:Nick Briant
Assistant Ref 2:Mike Lash
TMO: Chris Wratt



1 Tim Perry ,2 Corey Fl

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