Planet Rugby

Crusaders put one foot into play-offs

06th July 2012 07:42

Share:

Kieran Read try crusaders chiefs

Opening try: Kieran Read

The Crusaders kept their Super Rugby title hopes alive on Friday with a crucial 28-21 win over tournament leaders the Chiefs in Hamilton.

Defeat would have left the seven-time champions facing the prospect of missing the play-offs for the first time in eleven years but four vital points ahead of a home game against the struggling Western Force next week means they are now a safe bet to make the cut.

The result is only the Chiefs' third loss this year and means the Stormers are now within striking distance of top spot in the overall standings.

With so much at stake it was always going to be an epic clash, but with competitions for All Blacks jerseys featuring across the park, even more spice was added to the fiery mixture. And the protagonists didn't disappoint.

The Crusaders raced into a 20-6 lead early on thanks to tries from Kieran Read and Luke Romano, but the Chiefs clawed their way back into contention via a touchdown from Brodie Retallick to trail 20-16 at the break.

Andy Ellis's second-half score was cancelled out by a phenomenal try from Sonny Bill Williams but the Crusaders' advantage at the set-piece and a monumental late defensive effort proved enough to keep the Chiefs at bay.

Sam Cane and Tawera Kerr-Barlow combined to allow Chiefs fly-half Aaron Cruden to open the scoring from the kicking tee soon after kick-off but the first 20 minutes belonged to the Crusaders.

Dan Carter was given a chance to reply almost immediately but hit the post from long range. Retallick's knock-on from the rebound gave the visitors a golden opportunity to attack at the first set-piece and when the Chiefs scrum was penalised under their sticks, Carter levelled the scores. The Chiefs never held the lead again.

Read rammed the advantage home on the ten-minute mark when he crashed over following a break by Robbie Fruean, and Carter's conversion put the Crusaders up 10-3.

Cruden pulled three points back for the tournament leaders but Carter showed the youngster why he is New Zealand's incumbent pivot by knocking over a drop-goal just a minute later to lengthen the Crusaders' lead and keep the pressure on.

It didn't take long for the men in red to strike again and Romano bagged their second try when the Chiefs failed to handle a cheeky grubber from Ellis. Carter's extras gave the Crusaders a healthy gap at 20-6 at the end of the first quarter.

The next 20 minutes saw the Chiefs come storming back though and when Kerr-Barlow gave Retallick a perfectly-timed pass, no one was going to stop the big second-row from close range.

Cruden provided the conversion and another penalty to cap a long period of sustained pressure from the hosts to cut the gap to just four points at 20-16.

Carter missed a long-range effort on the stroke of half-time but the Crusaders were first to score in the second stanza. The home side had reason to feel aggrieved though after TMO Bryce Lawrence awarded the try despite a clear second movement to push Ellis across the line.

The Chiefs' reply came via a moment of magic from SBW, who had been rather quiet all night but shrugged off four defenders to score after a ruck steal from Kerr-Barlow.

Like Carter a few minutes earlier, Cruden missed the conversion to leave the Crusaders 25-21 ahead going into the last quarter.

Crucially, Carter found his range to land a penalty and extend the lead to seven, meaning the Chiefs had to cross the whitewash.

Asaeli Tikoirotuma was denied by inches in the corner but the hosts were camped on the Crusaders' try-line in the closing stages. Wave after wave of drives and successive penalties came to nothing and Williams will feel guilty for going it alone with the final play of game when he had a two-man overlap on his outside.

It's a decision that could have a massive impact on the outcome of the tournament.

The scorers:

For Chiefs:
Tries: Retallick, Williams
Con: Cruden
Pens: Cruden 3

For Crusaders:
Tries: Read, Romano, Ellis
Cons: Carter 2
Pens: Carter 2
Drops: Carter

Chiefs: 15 Robbie Robinson, 14 Tim Nanai-Williams, 13 Andrew Horrell, 12 Sonny Bill Williams, 11 Asaeli Tikoirotuma, 10 Aaron Cruden, 9 Tawera Kerr-Barlow, 8 Alex Bradley, 7 Sam Cane, 6 Liam Messam, 5 Brodie Retallick, 4 Craig Clarke (c), 3 Ben Tameifuna, 2 Mahonri Schwalger, 1 Sona Taumalolo.
Replacements: 16 Hika Elliot, 17 Toby Smith, 18 Romana Graham, 19 Tanerau Latimer, 20 Brendon Leonard, 21 Jackson Willison, 22 Lelia Masaga.

Crusaders: 15 Israel Dagg, 14 Adam Whitelock, 13 Robbie Fruean, 12 Ryan Crotty, 11 Zac Guildford, 10 Dan Carter, 9 Andy Ellis, 8 Kieran Read, 7 Richie McCaw, 6 George Whitelock, 5 Sam Whitelock, 4 Luke Romano, 3 Ben Franks, 2 Corey Flynn, 1 Owen Franks.
Replacements: 16 Quentin MacDonald, 17 Wyatt Crockett, 18 Tom Donnelly, 19 Matt Todd, 20 Willi Heinz, 21 Tom Taylor, 22 Sean Maitland.

Referee: Steve Walsh (Australia)

By Ross Hastie

Forthcoming Fixtures
FixtureDetails
All times are local
European Rugby Champions Cup
Saturday , October 25
Scarlets vs LeicesterScarlets vs Leicester Preview
Bath vs ToulouseBath vs Toulouse Preview
Montpellier vs GlasgowMontpellier vs Glasgow Preview
Northampton vs OspreysNorthampton vs Ospreys Preview
Sunday , October 26
Clermont Auvergne vs Sale SharksClermont Auvergne vs Sale Sharks Preview
Castres vs LeinsterCastres vs Leinster Preview
Wasps vs HarlequinsWasps vs Harlequins Preview
Benetton Treviso vs Racing Metro 92Benetton Treviso vs Racing Metro 92 Preview
More European Rugby Champions Cup fixtures
Guinness PRO12
Friday , October 31
Leinster vs Edinburgh19:35
Ospreys vs Connacht19:35
Glasgow vs Benetton Treviso19:35
More Guinness PRO12 fixtures
European Rugby Challenge Cup
Saturday , October 25
Rovigo vs Cardiff Blues14:00
Exeter vs ConnachtExeter vs Connacht Preview
Oyonnax vs Gloucester19:45
More European Rugby Challenge Cup fixtures
Currie Cup
Saturday , October 25
Western Province vs LionsWestern Province vs Lions Preview
More Currie Cup fixtures
Recent Results
FixtureDetails
All times are local
European Rugby Champions Cup
Saturday , October 25
Ulster 13 - 23 ToulonUlster vs Toulon Report
More European Rugby Champions Cup results
European Rugby Challenge Cup
Bucuresti 9 - 13 Stade Francais
More European Rugby Challenge Cup results
ITM Cup
Taranaki 36 - 32 TasmanTaranaki vs Tasman Report
More ITM Cup results
European Rugby Champions Cup
Friday , October 24
Munster 14 - 3 SaracensMunster vs Saracens Report
More European Rugby Champions Cup results
European Rugby Challenge Cup
Grenoble 15 - 25 London Irish
Edinburgh 25 - 17 LOU Rugby
Newport Gwent D'gons 26 - 30 Newcastle
La Rochelle 25 - 13 Bayonne
Brive 21 - 26 Zebre
Thursday , October 23
London Welsh 20 - 52 Bordeaux-BeglesLondon Welsh vs Bordeaux-Begles Report
More European Rugby Challenge Cup results
European Rugby Champions Cup
Sunday , October 19
Ospreys 42 - 7 Benetton TrevisoOspreys vs Benetton Treviso Report
Toulouse 30 - 23 MontpellierToulouse vs Montpellier Report
Toulon 28 - 18 ScarletsToulon vs Scarlets Report
Leinster 25 - 20 WaspsLeinster vs Wasps Report
More European Rugby Champions Cup results
European Rugby Challenge Cup
London Irish 70 - 14 RovigoLondon Irish vs Rovigo Report
More European Rugby Challenge Cup results
International Match
Saturday , October 18
Australia 28 - 29 New ZealandAustralia vs New Zealand Report
More International Match results
European Rugby Champions Cup
Sale Sharks 26 - 27 MunsterSale Sharks vs Munster Report
Saracens 30 - 23 Clermont AuvergneSaracens vs Clermont Auvergne Report
Racing Metro 92 20 - 11 NorthamptonRacing Metro 92 vs Northampton Report
Glasgow 37 - 10 BathGlasgow vs Bath Report
Leicester 25 - 18 UlsterLeicester vs Ulster Report
More European Rugby Champions Cup results
European Rugby Challenge Cup
LOU Rugby 28 - 18 London WelshLOU Rugby vs London Welsh Report
Bayonne 30 - 24 Exeter
Stade Francais 22 - 38 Newport Gwent D'gons
Connacht 48 - 12 La Rochelle
More European Rugby Challenge Cup results
Aviva Premiership Table
PosTeamPPts
1Northampton625
2Saracens622
3Exeter620
4Bath620
5Wasps615