Planet Rugby

Champions edge Crusaders

21st February 2014 08:31

Share:

Robbie Fruean Chiefs v Crusaders Super Rugby 2014 R1

Try for the Chiefs: Robbie Fruean

The Chiefs got their Super Rugby title defence off to a winning start with an 18-10 victory over the Crusaders in the New Zealand Conference opener at AMI Stadium in Christchurch on Friday.

In a pulsating game that went right down to the wire, the Chiefs led 8-0 at half time thanks to a brilliant try from former Crusader Robbie Fruean.

Sam Whitelock pulled the Crusaders back into contention with a try early in the second half but, with the score at 11-10, the defending champions landed the killer blow in the dying moments as replacement wing James Lowe intercepted and ran the length of the field to score.

The Crusaders will harbour a number of regrets having enjoyed the lion's share of possession and territory but between them Tyler Bleyendaal and Tom Talyor left 21 points by the wayside from the kicking tee.

Once again the Chiefs' ability to counter-punch came to the fore as they absorbed endless amounts of pressure, before striking back from deep inside their own territory.

Fruean's score-opening try was a fantastic effort, finishing off a counter-attacking move started inside the Chiefs 22 by returning full-back Mils Muliaina and Augustine Pulu. The scrum-half linked with Asaeli Tikoirotuma, who did well to make some ground before offloading to Fruean, who bounced off two tacklers before beating two more as he burst down the touchline to score.

Aaron Cruden missed the conversion and Bleyendaal did the same with two penalties soon afterwards to leave the score at 5-0 at the end of the first quarter.

Bleyendaal was having a nightmare with the boot and missed two more as half time approached. Things got worse for the Crusaders as Dominic Bird was sent to the bin, paying for his team's repeated infringements at the ruck.

Cruden was having no such problems and hit the target to make the lead 8-0 shortly before the interval after being caught high by Tim Perry.

An incredibly frustrating half for the home side came to an end with Bleyendaal missing his fifth shot at goal, leaving his side empty handed at the break.

The only silver lining for the hosts was Ben Tameifuna joining Bird in bin, as referee Chris Pollock sought to clean up the ruck area.

The second half started with both teams down to 14 men and Taylor on for Bleyendaal.

Chiefs should have claimed their second try from a counter attack from deep inside their own territory but Cruden spilled the ball in the act of diving for the line.

Not much was going the Crusaders' way as George Whitelock was sent to the bin and Cruden added his second penalty to extend the lead to 11-0.

The landscape of the game changed drastically in 48th minute though as Sam Whitelock broke clear from the middle of a line-out and charged home. Taylor added the extras and at 11-7, it was game on.

The kicking curse continued to plague the men in red however as Taylor had missed two more penalties by the hour mark - bringing the total of missed points to 21.

After banging on a closed door for the better part of ten minutes, Richie McCaw finally opted for points and Taylor slotted an easy penalty to make it a one-point game with six minutes left to play.

But, in classic Chiefs style, the visitors had the last laugh as Lowe latched onto Nafi Tuitavake's pass and bolted 95 metres to score.

Cruden's conversion, after the hooter, robbed the Crusaders of a much-deserved and crucial losing bonus point.

The scorers:

For Crusaders:
Try: S. Whitelock
Con: Taylor
Pen: Taylor
Yellow cards: Bird, G. Whitelock

For Chiefs:
Tries: Fruean, Lowe
Con: Cruden
Pens: Cruden 2
Yellow card: Tameifuna

Crusaders: 15 Israel Dagg, 14 Johnny McNicholl, 13 Reynold Lee-Lo, 12 Ryan Crotty, 11 Nafi Tuitavake, 10 Tyler Bleyendaal, 9 Andy Ellis, 8 Luke Whitelock, 7 Richie McCaw (capt), 6 George Whitelock, 5 Dominic Bird, 4 Sam Whitelock, 3 Owen Franks, 2 Corey Flynn, 1 Tim Perry.
Replacements: 16 Ben Funnell, 17 Wyatt Crockett, 18 Nepo Laulala, 19 Luke Romano, 20 Matt Todd, 21 Willi Heinz, 22 Tom Taylor, 23 Rob Thompson.

Chiefs: 15 Mils Muliaina, 14 Tim Nanai-Williams, 13 Robbie Fruean, 12 Charlie Ngatai, 11 Asaeli Tikoirotuma, 10 Aaron Cruden (c), 9 Augustine Pulu, 8 Kane Thompson, 7 Tevita Koloamatangi, 6 Liam Messam (capt) 5 Brodie Retallick, 4 Mike Fitzgerald, 3 Ben Tameifuna, 2 Rhys Marshall, 1 Jamie Mackintosh.
Replacements: 16 Nathan Harris, 17 Pauliasi Manu, 18 Ben Afeaki, 19 Matt Symons, 20 Nick Crosswell, 21 Tawera Kerr-Barlow, 22 Andrew Horrell, 23 James Lowe.


Venue: AMI Stadium, Christchurch
Referee: Chris Pollock (New Zealand)
Assistant referees: Nick Briant (New Zealand), Mike Lash (New Zealand)
Television match official: Chris Watt (New Zealand)

Forthcoming Fixtures
FixtureDetails
All times are local
Aviva Premiership
Friday , September 5
Northampton vs Gloucester19:45
Saturday , September 6
Saracens vs Wasps14:00
Sale vs Bath14:00
Leicester vs Newcastle15:00
London Irish vs Harlequins16:30
Sunday , September 7
London Welsh vs Exeter14:00
More Aviva Premiership fixtures
Rugby Championship
Saturday , September 6
New Zealand vs Argentina08:35
Australia vs South Africa11:05
More Rugby Championship fixtures
Guinness PRO12
Friday , September 5
Ospreys vs Benetton Treviso19:35
Munster vs Edinburgh19:35
Saturday , September 6
Scarlets vs Ulster14:40
Connacht vs Newport Gwent D'gons17:00
Glasgow vs Leinster17:15
Sunday , September 7
Zebre vs Cardiff Blues17:00
More Guinness PRO12 fixtures
Top 14
Friday , September 5
Montpellier vs Castres20:45
Saturday , September 6
Brive vs Toulouse14:45
Clermont Auvergne vs Racing Metro Paris17:00
Lyon vs Oyonnax18:30
Stade Francais vs Bayonne18:30
Grenoble vs La Rochelle18:30
Toulon vs Bordeaux-Begles20:45
More Top 14 fixtures
Currie Cup
Friday , September 5
Western Province vs Eastern Province Kings19:10
Saturday , September 6
Cheetahs vs Pumas15:00
Sharks vs Griquas17:05
Blue Bulls vs Lions19:10
More Currie Cup fixtures
Recent Results
FixtureDetails
All times are local
ITM Cup
Sunday , August 31
Taranaki 41 - 3 Bay Of PlentyTaranaki vs Bay Of Plenty Report
Auckland 16 - 16 TasmanAuckland vs Tasman Report
More ITM Cup results
Top 14
Saturday , August 30
La Rochelle 37 - 25 ToulouseLa Rochelle vs Toulouse Report
Grenoble 37 - 23 Bordeaux-Begles
Oyonnax 33 - 6 Stade Francais
Castres 30 - 6 BayonneCastres vs Bayonne Report
Racing Metro Paris 17 - 10 ToulonRacing Metro Paris vs Toulon Report
Lyon 24 - 6 Brive
More Top 14 results
Currie Cup
Griquas 25 - 36 CheetahsGriquas vs Cheetahs Report
Eastern Province Kings 22 - 41 LionsEastern Province Kings vs Lions Report
Blue Bulls 18 - 23 Western ProvinceBlue Bulls vs Western Province Report
More Currie Cup results
ITM Cup
Counties Manukau 21 - 27 Hawkes BayCounties Manukau vs Hawkes Bay Report
Southland 22 - 33 Otago
North Harbour 16 - 22 WaikatoNorth Harbour vs Waikato Report
More ITM Cup results
Top 14
Friday , August 29
Clermont Auvergne 20 - 21 MontpellierClermont Auvergne vs Montpellier Report
More Top 14 results
Currie Cup
Pumas 32 - 22 SharksPumas vs Sharks Report
More Currie Cup results
ITM Cup
Wellington 21 - 27 ManawatuWellington vs Manawatu Report
Thursday , August 28
Canterbury 48 - 3 NorthlandCanterbury vs Northland Report
Wednesday, August 27
Waikato 17 - 46 TaranakiWaikato vs Taranaki Report
Sunday , August 24
Manawatu 7 - 35 AucklandManawatu vs Auckland Report
Bay Of Plenty 27 - 56 TasmanBay Of Plenty vs Tasman Report
More ITM Cup results
Rugby Championship
Saturday , August 23
New Zealand 51 - 20 AustraliaNew Zealand vs Australia Report
Argentina 31 - 33 South AfricaArgentina vs South Africa Report
More Rugby Championship results
Top 14
Brive 6 - 21 Clermont AuvergneBrive vs Clermont Auvergne Report
Bayonne 38 - 12 Oyonnax
More Top 14 results
Aviva Premiership Table
PosTeamPPts
1Bath00
2Exeter00
3Gloucester00
4Harlequins00
5Leicester Tigers00