A quick one-two from fullback Will Jordan allowed the Crusaders to keep the Chiefs winless and pile pressure on coach Warren Gatland.
The Crusaders outscored the Chiefs by two tries to one to win this Round Three encounter 18-13 in a wet Christchurch – leaving Gatland still without a win as Chiefs coach.
Jordan scored tries at crucial stages either side of half-time, for the Crusaders’ second win of the season.
The strong ‘drizzle’ – it was bucketing down at times – made ball control a tricky business for both teams.
It also made the kicking game very important, ensuring teams play in the correct parts of the field.
However, the biggest difference was simply that the Crusaders were more accurate and the Chiefs were guilty of making too many errors.
And as the points piled on, on the scoreboard, the Chiefs started to chance their arm – leading to more mistakes.
In contrast, the Crusaders’ kicking game was far more effective, while their ability to score at crucial stages proved vital.
Chiefs captain Sam Cane talked about the two ‘opportunistic’ tries and his own team’s failure to take their chances.
After 10 minutes of exchanging blows, without much success, the Crusaders won a scrum penalty – allowing Richie Mo’unga to open the scoring, 3-0 to the hosts.
Five minutes later the Chiefs won an offside penalty and set up a line-out maul. The first one was repelled and so was a second attempted maul – with the Crusaders winning a turnover and clearing their lines.
Just past the quarter mark, the Chiefs won another penalty inside the Crusaders 22 and this time Damian McKenzie slotted the kick to level the scores up, 3-all.
Five minutes later the Crusaders were again penalised, this time near their 10-metre line. However, this time Damian McKenzie was away to the right.
With just over 30 minutes gone, Sevu Reece beat McKenzie to a ball in the air and used his pace to open up the game – Will Jordan receiving the ball on the inside and scoring the first try of the match. Mo’unga added the conversion, 10-3.
That is how it stayed to the half-time break.
It was also Jordan who scored the first points of the second half – a quick throw-in at the line-out by Reece to Jordan catching the Chiefs napping and the Crusaders fullback sprinted over. Mo’unga was wide with the conversion attempt – 15-3.
On the hour mark, Mo’unga slotted his second penalty to stretch the home team’s lead to 18-3.
The Chiefs finally got over the line to keep their hopes alive – Brad Weber going blind from a ruck close to the line and offloaded to wing Sean Wainui for the try. McKenzie added the conversion to make it 10-18, with 15 minutes to go.
Turning up the heat, the Chiefs won a penalty with just on 10 minutes remaining – McKenzie adding the three to turn in into a grand-stand finish, 13-18.
Two minutes later replacement David Havili had a shot from just on 50 metres out, but hooked it past the left upright. It still left the Chiefs pinned deep inside their own half, with time ticking away.
Two crucial mistakes – both dropped balls on attack – allowed the Crusaders to lift the siege on their territory and play the time out for a hard-earned win.
Man of the match: In these tough conditions, the contest between the two flyhalves – Richie Mo’unga (Crusaders) and Aaron Cruden (Chiefs) – was going to be key. Also important was how fullbacks Will Jordan (Crusaders) and Damian McKenzie (Chiefs) conducted themselves in trying circumstances. While Jordan was a rock on defence, McKenzie looked to use his running game. Yet, it was Jordan who scored the crucial points and he wins our award.
For the Crusaders:
Tries: Jordan 2
Pens: Mo’unga 2
For the Chiefs:
Pens: McKenzie 2
Crusaders: 15 Will Jordan, 14 Sevu Reece, 13 Braydon Ennor, 12 Jack Goodhue, 11 George Bridge, 10 Richie Mo’unga, 9 Bryn Hall, 8 Whetu Douglas, 7 Billy Harmon, 6 Cullen Grace, 5 Mitchell Dunshea, 4 Sam Whitelock, 3 Michael Alaalatoa, 2 Codie Taylor (captain), 1 Joe Moody.
Replacements: 16 Brodie McAlister, 17 Isileli Tuungafasi, 18 George Bower, 19 Luke Romano, 20 Ethan Blackadder, 21 Mitchell Drummond, 22 David Havili, 23 Leicester Faingaanuku.
Chiefs: 15 Damian McKenzie, 14 Sean Wainui, 13 Quinn Tupaea, 12 Anton Lienert-Brown, 11 Etene Nanai-Seturo, 10 Aaron Cruden, 9 Brad Weber, 8 Pita Gus Sowakula, 7 Sam Cane, 6 Lachlan Boshier, 5 Naitoa Ah Kuoi, 4 Mitchell Brown, 3 Nepo Laulala, 2 Bradley Slater, 1 Aidan Ross.
Replacements: 16 Samisoni Taukei’aho, 17 Reuben O’Neill, 18 Ross Geldenhuys, 19 Adam Thompson, 20 Mitchell Karpik, 21 Lisati Milo-Harris, 22 Kaleb Trask, 23 Tumua Manu.
Referee: Brendon Pickerill
Assistant referees: James Doleman, Ben O’Keeffe
TMO: Mike Fraser