The Chiefs defeated the reigning champion Crusaders 31-10 on Friday, pulling off the first surprise of the Super Rugby Pacific season after falling behind 10-0 after 20 minutes.
Center In the 20th minute, David Havili scored his first try of the year, and Richie Mo’unga’s conversion after a penalty gave the Crusaders a 10-0 lead in front of a sizable home crowd. With a try to lock Brodie Retallick, the Chiefs managed to stay in the game, cutting the deficit to 10-7 at the break.
After 70 minutes, the Chiefs lead 31-10 thanks to tries from captain Sam Cane, center Alex Nankivell, and replacement Cortez Ratima, while the Crusaders were mostly confined to their own half or held back by the Chiefs’ defense.
In Super Rugby Pacific, Chiefs defeated Crusaders 31-10 in Christchurch
Although often at the price of structure, new rules implemented this season to speed up the game made it faster, and the Super Rugby 2023: Chiefs 31, Crusaders 10.
The Chiefs, who were more impulsive than the Crusaders, likely benefited more from pressure to use the ball quickly from rucks. The Christchurch Crusaders, who were outscored 24-0, were obliged to make a lot of tackles in the second half and missed too many of them.
When we put ourselves under a little strain in the first half, I think we held on extremely well, Cane remarked. “I believed that we did a lot of that right in the second half. I have a lot of faith in this group. It’s a wonderful start to our season because we feel like we’ve been preparing for a while.
Early on, the Crusaders were in control after dominating the set-piece fight, and Havili scored as Cane was sent off for a deliberate foul.
Following a break by Shaun Stevenson that created an attacking lineout, Retallick scored in the 33rd minute. Retallick was there as he always was when scrumhalf Brad Weber squeaked through a gap.
Cane’s try gave the Chiefs the lead in the 49th minute, and Nankivell’s diving score made it 21-10 in the 60th.
As the Crusaders were down to 14 men, Ratima made a stunning run from a scrum to score beneath the posts, and flyhalf Damian McKenzie converted all of his conversions to increase the Chiefs’ lead.
The Chiefs defied expectations to shock the Crusaders in Christchurch on opening night, making the second season of Super Rugby Pacific open for business.
There was a low crowd for this featured match at Orangetheory Stadium, which may indicate that the locals knew something we didn’t.
Prior to this surprise, the majority of experts predicted that the Crusaders, who are led by Scott Robertson in his final season, would keep winning until they won their seventh straight championship.
Samisoni Tauklei’aho of the Watch All Blacks was a constant ball-carrier for the Chiefs, and Retallick made a number of crucial errors as well as the game-winning interception after Stevenson and Weber had ignited a much-needed breakout reaction.
Nevertheless, Liam Coombes-holding Fabling’s of Crusaders prop Fletcher Newell and Codie Taylor’s maul attempt being ruled out for obstruction when he lost his footing allowed the visitors to only trail 10-7 at the half.
In the second half, those opportunities for the Crusaders quickly vanished, bringing the reigning champs crashing back to earth.
Chiefs 31 (Brodie Retallick, Sam Cane, Alex Nankivell, Cortez Ratima tries, Damian McKenzie 4 cons, pen)
Crusaders 10 (Richie Mo’unga con, drop goal; David Havili try)