Ruthless Crusaders book spot in final
Saturday, July 29, 2017 allblacks.com Getty Images
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The Chiefs threw everything at the Crusaders but couldn’t convert their chances as the Crusaders scrambled well on defence and took every scoring opportunity on offer.
With conditions in Christchurch much drier than last week’s quarterfinal, the Chiefs knew they had to do what the Highlanders couldn’t do and ask the Crusaders plenty of questions on defence.
After a couple of aimless kicks early in the game, the Chiefs decided to keep the ball alive and attempt to break down the Crusaders defence down through multiple phases and quick ball movement.
Although the Chiefs dominated possession in the opening 15 minutes, the Crusaders showed their ruthless edge by capitalising on their only two scoring opportunities of the half. The first came when James Lowe was caught offside close to the line and Richie Mo’unga opened the scoring with an easy penalty.
Almost straight from the kick off, the Crusaders struck again when Ryan Crotty slipped two tackles and linked with Israel Dagg to put halfback Bryn Hall into space to score.
A moment of controversy then came when Tim Nanai Williams was awarded a try following grubber from James Lowe only to have the TMO intervene and rule a knock on.
Teams have found it hard to score against the Crusaders this year and the decision could have easily dented the Chiefs confidence but instead it seemed to deepen their resolve.
Although the Chiefs couldn’t cross the line in the first half, they added two penalties to close the halftime gap to 10-6 and ensure the Crusaders had to make a mountain of tackles.
The Crusaders opened the scoring in the second half through a freakish try to Israel Dagg. With James Lowe under pressure close to his own line, Richie Mo’unga knocked the ball loose in the tackle and straight into the hands of Dagg to score.
The Chiefs continued to attack stoutly but just couldn’t find a way over the Crusaders line. With the game delicately poised at 15-6, the Crusaders put the game out of reach when Seta Tamanivalu bagged a double to make it 27-6.
The Chiefs never stopped trying and finally broke through the Crusaders defence when Anton Lienert-Brown made a break in the midfield and put Brodie Retallick over for the consolation try.
For the Chiefs, it was an end of an era with Aaron Cruden, Tawera Kerr-Barlow, James Lowe and coach Dave Rennie all being involved in their final game for the club.
The Crusaders now have to wait to see whether they will face the Lions or the Hurricanes in the final but will head into the match with plenty of confidence to lift their first Super Rugby title since 2008.
SCORERS: Crusaders 27 (Bryn Hall, Israel Dagg, Seta Tamanivalu 2, tries, Richie Mo’unga pen, 2 con) Chiefs 13 (Brodie Retallick try, Damian McKenzie 2 pen, con)
The Crusaders book their spot in the 2017 Investec #SuperRugby final!#CRUvCHI pic.twitter.com/EXxpCq02Xa— Super Rugby (@SuperRugbyNZ) July 29, 2017
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