The Chiefs made it back-to-back wins in Super Rugby after beating the Crusaders 24-19 at McLean Park in Napier on Friday.
The Chiefs made it back-to-back wins in Super Rugby after beating the Crusaders 24-19 in Napier on Friday.
It was a second defeat on the bounce for the Crusaders, who couldn't complete a second-half fightback after trailing 16-6 at half-time.
The Chiefs outscored their hosts two tries to one, with prop Sona Taumalolo burrowing his way over for a crucial touchdown in the 56th minute that proved to be the match-winner.
Needing a converted try to win and with two minutes remaining, Crusaders skipper Kieran Read failed to keep hold of an interception that would have seen the All Black number eight under the posts.
Chiefs pivot Aaron Cruden had a mixed performance with the boot, but did enough to keep his team in front by sending over four penalties and a conversion, while opposite number Tyler Bleyendaal ended the match with the same figures – Taumalolo's try proving to be the difference between the two teams in a thrilling encounter.
The two fly-halves traded early penalties, before Cruden finally put his team ahead after missing two fairly simple shots at goal.
The Chiefs were then rewarded for dominating all the possession and territory with a try to flank Liam Messam after a powerful forward surge got him over the whitewash.
The TMO was called in to confirm, and the try was given with Cruden adding the extras from far out that put the visitors 13-3 in front.
Bleyendaal added another three-pointer to cut the deficit to seven points, but Cruden extended the Chiefs' lead with his third successful penalty of the match to reclaim a ten-point buffer on the stroke of half-time.
The Crusaders came out firing after the break, and didn't take long before centre Robbie Fruean snapped up a pass from Read to go over for a try after sustained pressure on the Chiefs line.
Bleyendaal converted and it was game on at 16-13.
The Chiefs were able to reassert the dominance with another forward onslaught that ended with Taumalolo going over from close range after a series of drives. Again the TMO was needed to spot the ball under the pile-up and the try was awarded. Cruden failed to add the extras.
The boot of Bleyendaal, though, kept the home side in touch – with the fly-half punishing the indisciplined Chiefs with two well-taken attempts to cut the lead to three points once again (21-19).
However Cruden settled the Chiefs' nerves with a late penalty – and despite Read having half a chance to break their hearts, the visitors held on.
Pens: Bleyendaal 4
Tries: Messam, Taumalolo
Pens: Cruden 4
Crusaders: 15 Sean Maitland, 14 Israel Dagg, 13 Robbie Fruean, 12 Adam Whitelock, 11 Zac Guildford, 10 Tyler Bleyendaal, 9 Andy Ellis, 8 Kieran Read (c), 7 Matt Todd, 6 George Whitelock, 5 Tom Donnelly, 4 Luke Romano, 3 Owen Franks, 2 Corey Flynn, 1 Ben Franks.
Replacements: 16 Quentin MacDonald, 17 Wyatt Crockett, 18 Sam Whitelock, 19 Luke Whitelock, 20 Willi Heinz, 21 Tom Taylor, 22 Tom Marshall.
Chiefs: 15 Robbie Robinson, 14 Asaeli Tikoirotuma, 13 Richard Kahui, 12 Sonny Bill Williams, 11 Tim Nanai-Williams, 10 Aaron Cruden, 9 Tawera Kerr-Barlow, 8 Kane Thompson, 7 Tanerau Latimer, 6 Liam Messam, 5 Brodie Retallick, 4 Craig Clarke, 3 Ben Tameifuna, 2 Mahonri Schwalger, 1 Arizona Taumalolo.
Replacements: 16 Hika Elliot, 17 Shane Cleaver, 18 Mike Fitzgerald, 19 Sam Cane, 20 Augustine Pulu, 21 Andrew Horrell, 22 Jackson Willison.