Will Jordan scored two tries as the Crusaders claimed a hard-fought 18-13 win over the Chiefs in Christchurch on Sunday.
The current Vodacom Super Rugby champions will breathe a collective sigh of relief. They weren’t at their best, but in the end it was thanks to Jordan’s brace that they emerged from this contest with a valuable win.
While they were not at their free-flowing attacking best, the Crusaders showed a solid defensive backbone, especially in the second half when they had a few nail-biting moments on their own line.
The Chiefs fired in patches. They troubled the Crusaders at the lineout, while their attack posed a threat whenever Aaron Cruden and Damian McKenzie ran at, and took on the defensive line.
But ultimately, spurned chances, handling errors and a lack of decent territorial play counted against the visitors.
The defeat was the Chiefs’ third consecutive in the competition, having lost their previous two encounters against the Highlanders and the Blues respectively.
In front of a fairly decent crowd in Christchurch, the match got off to a shaky start thanks to challenging weather conditions. All Blacks Richie Mo’unga and McKenzie traded penalties to lock the scores up at three all, but the war of attrition continued well into the first half before the Crusaders struck the first significant blow when Jordan finished off a superb try seven minutes before the break.
Completely out of nowhere, McKenzie was called to field an up-and-under, but he failed to secure possession in the air and the ball fell into the lap of Sevu Reece, who sprinted free before launching an accurate inside pass to Jordan, who did the rest.
Where there’s a Will, there’s a way!
Will Jordan is on 🔥 in this game (⚡ with a little bit of help from Reece Lightning)
— Sky Sport NZ (@skysportnz) June 28, 2020
As they’ve done so often in the pass, the Crusaders looked to tighten the screw on the stroke of half-time, but luckily for the Chiefs, their defence managed to hold them out to keep the deficit down to seven at the midway mark.
It was much of the same in the second half with the Crusaders striking first again. And again it was the Reece-Jordan partnership that did the trick. This time, they pounced on a Cruden mistake when the Chiefs flyhalf flung the ball into touch. Catching the defence aware, Reece threw the ball in quickly at the lineout, sending Jordan straight through a gap to score untouched.
The work of Goodhue leading up to this was brilliant but yet again Sevu Reece and Will Jordan combine for a try pic.twitter.com/HYOIlqZjud
— Ultimate Rugby (@ultimaterugby) June 28, 2020
Going behind 18-3 on the score seemed to spark the Chiefs to life as they suddenly upped the urgency and intensity. The visitors would chalk up 10 unanswered points to set up a nervy last 10 minutes. With the game on a knife’s edge, the Chiefs went in search of a winning try and twice in the final minutes they were on the cusp of the tryline.
However, they came away with nothing as two handling mistakes came to the Crusaders’ aid at the end of a classic arm wrestle.
Crusaders – Tries: Will Jordan (2). Conversion: Richie Mo’unga. Penalty: Mo’unga (2).
Chiefs – Try: Sean Wainui. Conversion: Damian McKenzie. Penalties: McKenzie (2).
Crusaders – 15 Will Jordan, 14 Sevu Reece, 13 Braydon Ennor, 12 Jack Goodhue, 11 George Bridge, 10 Richie Mo’unga, 9 Bryn Hall, 8 Whetu Douglas, 7 Billy Harmon, 6 Cullen Grace, 5 Mitchell Dunshea, 4 Samuel Whitelock, 3 Michael Alaalatoa, 2 Codie Taylor (c), 1 Joe Moody.
Subs: 16 Brodie McAlister, 17 George Bower, 18 Oliver Jager, 19 Luke Romano, 20 Ethan Blackadder, 21 Mitchell Drummond, 22 David Havili, 23 Leicester Faingaanuku.
Chiefs – 15 Damian McKenzie, 14 Solomon Alaimalo, 13 Quinn Tupaea, 12 Anton Lienert-Brown, 11 Sean Wainui, 10 Aaron Cruden, 9 Brad Weber, 8 Pita Gus Sowakula, 7 Sam Cane (c), 6 Lachlan Boshier, 5 Naitoa Ah Kuoi, 4 Mitchell Brown, 3 Nepo Laulala, 2 Bradley Slater, 1 Aidan Ross.
Subs: 16 Samisoni Taukei’aho, 17 Reuben O’Neill, 18 Ross Geldenhuys, 19 Adam Thomson, 20 Mitchell Karpik, 21 Lisati Milo-Harris, 22 Kaleb Trask, 23 Tumua Manu.
Photo: Kai Schwoerer/Getty Images