Aaron Cruden kicked a last-minute penalty goal to give the Chiefs a 19-17 win over the Brumbies in New Plymouth on Friday, writes JON CARDINELLI.
The Brumbies will have plenty of regrets. They controlled the ball well during the early stages, and their forwards were especially dominant at the breakdown. Unfortunately, in the second half, they began to concede turnovers at the rucks and through handling errors. These mistakes allowed the Chiefs to hit back and eventually win the game.
Before kick-off, the Chiefs suffered a double blow with news that All Blacks Sam Cane and Sonny Bill Williams had been ruled out. Replacement openside Tevita Koloamatangi was injured in the first quarter. It wasn't looking good for the Chiefs, even though they managed to scrap their way to a 13-11 half-time lead.
The Brumbies turned down several attempts at goal during that first period. They also missed three goal kicks. They should have been ahead at the break, and by more than one score.
Cruden was good in his first game back for the Chiefs. His accurate goal-kicking kept the hosts in the contest, although it would take another big mistake by the Brumbies to give the Chiefs a shot at victory.
With less than four minutes to play, a Cruden cross-kick in the Brumbies' 22 went into touch. The Brumbies needed to secure possession from the lineout, and clear their lines. Instead, they knocked on at the set piece, and gifted the Chiefs one final scrum.
The hosts showed good composure, and after a few phases, were awarded the penalty. Cruden nailed the kick to give the Chiefs their second win in as many weeks.
Chiefs – Try: Charlie Ngatai. Conversion: Aaron Cruden. Penalties: Cruden (4).
Brumbies – Try: Scott Sio. Penalties: Christian Leali'ifano (3), Nic White.
Chiefs – 15 James Lowe, 14 Bryce Heem, 13 Seta Tamanivalu, 12 Charlie Ngatai, 11 Hosea Gear, 10 Aaron Cruden, 9 Brad Weber, 8 Maama Vaipulu, 7 Tevita Koloamatangi, 6 Liam Messam (c), 5 Michael Fitzgerald, 4 Matt Symons, 3 Siate Tokolahi, 2 Hika Elliot, 1 Jamie Mackintosh.
Subs: 16 Quentin MacDonald, 17 Pauliasi Manu, 18 Ben Tameifuna, 19 Brodie Retallick, 20 Shaun Pullman, 21 Augustine Pulu, 22 Damian McKenzie, 23 Anton Leinert-Brown.
Brumbies – 15 Robbie Coleman, 14 Joe Tomane, 13 Tevita Kuridrani, 12 Christian Leali'ifano, 11 Henry Speight, 10 Matt Toomua, 9 Nic White (c), 8 Ita Vaea, 7 Jarrad Butler, 6 Scott Fardy, 5 Sam Carter, 4 Rory Arnold, 3 Ben Alexander, 2 Josh Mann-Rea, 1 Scott Sio.
Subs: 16 Stephen Moore, 17 JP Smith, 18 Ruan Smith, 19 Jordan Smiler, 20 Sean Doyle, 21 Michael Dowsett, 22 James Dargaville, 23 Lausii Taliauli.
Photo: Hagen Hopkins/Getty Images