The Chiefs staked their claim for a Super 14 finals spot after handing leaders the Crusaders their first loss of the season with an impressive 18-5 victory in Hamilton.
The Chiefs staked their claim for a Super 14 finals spot after handing leaders the Crusaders their first loss of the season with an impressive 18-5 victory in Hamilton tonight.
Having beaten the Bulls, Highlanders and Brumbies in recent weeks, the Chiefs made it four on the trot after ambushing the Crusaders with two first-half tries in front of a capacity 25,000-crowd at Waikato Stadium.
Foxsports reports that they are now firm contenders for the playoffs, temporarily sitting in the top four tonight.
The Crusaders will retain top spot, despite having their eight-game winning streak brought to an end, having started the round with a seven-point buffer over the second-placed Sharks.
Chiefs flyhalf Stephen Donald passed 100 points in booting two penalties and a conversion to give the Chiefs an 18-0 halftime lead.
He also had a hand in home side’s two first half tries – scored by Sitiveni Sivivatu in the 14th minute and Simms Davison in the 30th – and with his astute kicking in general play played a leading role in keeping the Crusaders to just single try in the second half.
It was the second time in as many meetings the Chiefs have stunned their much-vaunted New Zealand rivals, having won last year’s match 30-24 in Christchurch.
“What a great atmosphere in front of a packed crowd and I’m proud of my boys – they really stuck to it and to beat a team that has been unbeaten this year was very pleasing,” Chiefs captain Mils Muliaina said.
“We’ve leaked a few tries this season but this week we focused on our defence and it showed out there. We’re building some momentum now and hopefully we can carry it on next week.”
Andrew Ellis scored the Crusaders only try, with the loss compounded by an injury to centre Casey Laulala, who was stretchered off wearing a neck brace after he was involved a head clash with Dwayne Sweeney late in the game.
Donald had played a brilliant game and his tactical kicking to put the ball behind the Crusaders’ defence had paid off.
Crusaders captain Richie McCaw said the Chiefs had outplayed his side.
“We made mistakes and they capitalised on them – they just had more intensity everywhere.
“I don’t know why but we just lacked numbers at the breakdowns, the ball we were getting was quite slow and we struggled to get out game going.
“They had pretty good defence which inhibited our game.”Tweet