Chiefs flyer Shaun Stevenson showed his class as he scored what would prove to be the match-winning try for his team in their Super Rugby Pacific derby against the Crusaders in Hamilton on Saturday.
With the Crusaders holding a slender 24-22 lead, the Chiefs needed something special to retain their unbeaten status in the competition and that came from Damian McKenzie in the 73rd minute.
The diminutive playmaker tore the defending champions’ defence to shreds with a spectacular line break before offloading to Stevenson out wide on the edge of his opponents’ 22.
The full-back still had plenty of work to do but kept his composure to shrug off a challenge from Braydon Ennor before crashing over in the left-hand corner for an excellent try.
Damian McKenzie the magician sets up another! The crowd erupts 🙌
— Stan Sport Rugby (@StanSportRugby) April 29, 2023
Although McKenzie failed with the conversion attempt the Chiefs were now holding a crucial 27-24 lead and they hammered home their dominance with a converted try from Tyrone Thompson which clinched their ninth consecutive Super Rugby Pacific win of the season.
Earlier, the Crusaders made the brighter start courtesy of a Tamaiti Williams try in the fifth minute which was converted by Richie Mo’unga but the Chiefs did not panic clawed their way back with four penalties from McKenzie which gave them a 12-7 lead at half-time.
The hosts were fastest out of the blocks after the interval and extended their lead to 19-7 when Brodie Retallick crashed over for their opening try in the 49th minute.
The Crusaders struck back via a penalty try in the 54th minute, after the Chiefs dragged down a maul close to their try-line and the visitors were rewarded with another converted five-pointer from Fergus Burke in the 62nd minute which meant the champions were leading 21-19.
Five minutes later, McKenzie succeeded with his fifth penalty but the visitors reclaimed the lead in the 71st minute when Mo’unga slotted a three-pointer of his own.
That set up a tense finish and the Chiefs held their nerve to clinch the result courtesy of those late tries from Stevenson and Thompson.
Video credit: Stan Sport