The Chiefs produced one of the great Vodacom Super Rugby comebacks when they beat the Crusaders 40-27 in Suva on Saturday. JOHN GOLIATH reports.
The win kept the Chiefs’ slim hopes of a playoff berth alive, although it might be a case of too little, too late for the Waikato outfit. The Crusaders, who need just two points to secure top spot in the standings, were denied a bonus point by the Chiefs late on after a pulsating match in front of a full house.
The Crusaders were cruising halfway through the first half, scoring three tries to take a 20-0 lead after scores from Scott Barrett, Mitchell Drummond and Sevu Reece. They forced the Chiefs’ attack into mistakes with their quick line speed and managed to capitalise with three wonderful tries.
However, the Chiefs hit back with three tries of their own via Solomon Alaimalo, Samisoni Taukei’aho and Jesse Parete to go into the break 20-19 behind. They started countering the Crusaders’ defence with deft offloads in the tackle and top support play.
#SuperRugby – HALFTIME:
Chiefs 19-20 Crusaders
It’s been one of the most entertaining halves of rugby in recent years with 6 tries scored and one point seperating the two teams. pic.twitter.com/DRTYoMmJr9
— SuperSport🏏 (@SuperSportTV) June 1, 2019
The Crusaders, who looked like they were fading towards the end of the match, started the second half well when Braydon Ennor crossed the line to extend their lead to 27-19. However, that would be their last score of the match, as the Chiefs turned on the style in front of a boisterous Fiji crowd.
The ‘home side’ would add three more tries in the second half through Brad Weber, Shaun Stevenson, Tuma Manu. Manu’s try three minutes from time also denied the defending champions their bonus point.
— SA Rugby magazine (@SARugbymag) June 1, 2019
Chiefs – Tries: Solomon Alaimalo, Samisoni Taukei’aho, Jesse Parete, Brad Weber, Shaun Stevenson, Tuma Manu. Conversions: Jack Debreczeni (4).
Crusaders – Tries: Scott Barrett, Mitchell Drummond, Sevu Reece, Braydon Ennor. Conversions: Richie Mo’unga (2). Penalty: Mo’unga.
Crusaders – 15 David Havili, 14 Sevu Reece, 13 Jack Goodhue, 12 Ryan Crotty, 11 Braydon Ennor, 10 Richie Mo’unga, 9 Mitchell Drummond, 8 Kieran Read, 7 Billy Harmon, 6 Whetukamokamo Douglas, 5 Sam Whitelock (c), 4 Scott Barrett, 3 Michael Alaalatoa, 2 Andrew Makalio, 1 Joe Moody.
Subs: 16 Ben Funnell, 17 Isi Tu’ungafasi, 18 George Bower, 19 Mitchell Dunshea, 20 Jordan Taufua, 21 Bryn Hall, 22 Mitchell Hunt, 23 George Bridge.
Chiefs – 15 Solomon Alaimalo, 14 Shaun Stevenson, 13 Alex Nankivell, 12 Anton Lienert-Brown, 11 Sean Wainui, 10 Jack Debreczeni, 9 Brad Weber, 8 Pita Gus Sowakula, 7 Sam Cane (c), 6 Lachlan Boshier, 5 Tyler Ardron, 4 Jesse Parete, 3 Nepo Laulala, 2 Samisoni Taukei’aho, 1 Atu Moli.
Subs: 16 Bradley Slater, 17 Aidan Ross, 18 Angus Ta’avao, 19 Daymon Leasuasu, 20 Mitchell Jacobson, 21 Te Toiroa Tahuriorangi, 22 Marty McKenzie, 23 Tumua Manu.
Photo: Phil Walter/Getty Images