Planet Rugby

Chiefs no match for Crusaders

15th April 2011 07:27

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crusaders v chiefs sonny bill williams

Physical encounter: SBW tries to get his trademark offload away

The Crusaders made it six wins on the trot in Super Rugby after seeing off the Chiefs 34-16 at Baypark Stadium in Tauranga on Friday.

It was a winning return to Super Rugby for All Blacks skipper Richie McCaw, who came on in the second half and even played a hand in securing his team's fourth try for the bonus point.

It wasn't all one-way traffic for the visitors, especially in the first half, who were given a run for their money after leading by just five points (17-13) at half-time.

However, costly mistakes and too many lost turnovers by the Chiefs allowed the Crusaders to pull away, secure a vital win away from home and strengthen their grip at the top of the New Zealand and overall conference.

For the Chiefs, it's back to the drawing board after suffering a third loss on the bounce.

The Crusaders back three of Israel Dagg, Zac Guildford and Sean Maitland were a constant threat throughout and with All Blacks coaches Graham Henry and Wayne Smith looking on from the stands - the trio certainly did their World Cup chances no harm.

Big hits were the order of the day early on with Chiefs flanker Tanerau Latimer left dazed and confused after taking a knock to the head off an attempted tackle on Crusaders prop Owen Franks. Latimer was replaced by Scott Waldrom, who proved to be a thorn in the Crusaders' side all night.

The Crusaders though wasted little time getting on the scoreboard first with an opening try to centre Robbie Fruean after starting and then ending off a move in the fourth minute of the match.

Off turnover ball, Fruean put Guildford away down the touchline before the Crusaders speedster passed inside to Dagg who showed quick hands to get the ball to the supporting Fruean on his outside. Matt Berquist added the simple conversion and another Crusaders whitewash looked on the cards.

The Chiefs had other ideas however, and responded through speed merchant Lelia Masaga after an intitial burst from partner in crime Sitiveni Sivivatu put the Crusaders on the backfoot.

The ball was spread from left to right, with Masaga showing tremendous upper body strength to shrug off two would-be defenders for a try in the corner. Mike Delany converted from out wide to level the scores 7-7.

The Chiefs then took the lead courtesy of a straight-forward Delany penalty, but it didn't last long after a spilled ball in midfield led to Maitland picking up and out-sprinting Sivivatu to the tryline.

Berquist added the conversion as well as his first successful penalty in the 33rd minute to give his team a 10-point lead heading into the break. But a handling error by Berquist close to his line, eventually led to three more points to Delany on the stroke of half-time.

With Crusaders coach Todd Blackadder not taking any chances, three replacements on his star-studded bench were sent on to work their magic with Andy Ellis, Wyatt Crockett and McCaw replacing Kahn Fotuali'i, Ben Franks and George Whitelock respectively.

It seemed to do the trick after Dagg skipped past Dwayne Sweeny with some scintillating footwork and from that incision, Ellis strolled over for the Crusaders' third try.

Delany narrowed the gap but missed a crucial second penalty that would have brought the Chiefs within a converted try.

Crusaders replacement lock Luke Romano earned the bonus point try at the death.

The scorers:

For Chiefs:
Tries: Masaga
Cons: Delany
Pens: Delany 3

For Crusaders:
Tries: Fruean, Maitland, Ellis, Romano
Cons: Berquist 4
Pens: Berquist 2

Chiefs: 15 Mils Muliaina, 14 Lelia Masaga, 13 Richard Kahui, 12 Dwayne Sweeney, 11 Sitiveni Sivivatu, 10 Mike Delany, 9 Brendon Leonard, 8 Fritz Lee, 7 Tanerau Latimer, 6 Liam Messam, 5 Isaac Ross, 4 Romana Graham, 3 Ben Afeaki, 2 Hika Elliot, 1 Toby Smith.
Replacements: 16 Aled de Malmanche, 17 Nathan White, 18 Craig Clarke, 19 Scott Waldrom, 20 Tawera Kerr-Barlow, 21 Tana Umaga, 22 Tim Nanai-Williams.

Crusaders: 15 Israel Dagg, 14 Sean Maitland, 13 Robbie Fruean, 12 Sonny Bill Williams, 11 Zac Guildford, 10 Matt Berquist, 9 Kahn Fotuali'i, 8 Kieran Read (c), 7 Matt Todd, 6 George Whitelock, 5 Chris Jack, 4 Brad Thorn, 3 Owen Franks, 2 Corey Flynn, 1 Ben Franks.
Replacements: 16 Quentin MacDonald, 17 Wyatt Crockett, 18 Luke Romano, 19 Richie McCaw, 20 Andy Ellis, 21 Tom Marshall, 22 Adam Whitelock.

Referee: Craig Joubert (South Africa)

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