The Crusaders have handed the Chiefs an unwanted record-equaling result tonight at Orangetheory Stadium in Christchurch, winning 39-17 in their Sky Super Rugby Aotearoa round three match.
The loss means the Chiefs have now been on the wrong side of the scoresheet 11 times in a row, one more next weekend and they’ll beat the mark for a New Zealand Super Rugby team set by the 2011 Highlanders.
However, things started out perfectly for the Chiefs when All Black fullback Damian McKenzie scored a stunning try in inside the first two minutes. Some quick ball and a lovely pass from Sean Wainui sent him through to score, but if that was impressive it paled in comparison to what Leicester Fainga’anuku had up his sleeve in the 16th minute. The Crusaders winger latched onto a wide pass from David Havili and finished with an out-of-this-world dive into the corner that would look right at home in the NRL, NFL or an Olympic gymnastics competition.
With the score evenly balanced at 11-10 to the Crusaders after the start of the second half, the Chiefs suffered a double blow when co-captain Brad Weber conceded a penalty try and was sinbinned. While this ruling was correct, they can feel more than a little hard done by as a captain’s challenge in the lead up regarding a forward pass by Richie Mo’unga was overruled despite some compelling evidence otherwise.
The Crusaders then set about asserting their dominance over the Chiefs at scrum time, winning a string of penalties and setting up camp in the 22 with ease. First Will Jordan scored under the posts thanks to some more (legitimate) Mo’unga magic, then Whetukamokamo Douglas powered through to clinch the victory. Mitchell Dunshea then tacked on a bit of insurance with a late try, before Etene Nanai-Seturo grabbed a consolation try for the Chiefs.
There will be plenty of discussion over Weber’s yellow card, however it is worth remembering that the Crusaders were still heavy favourites and playing at home. While that won’t be much consolation for winless Chiefs coach Clayton McMillan, Scott Robertson will be pleased with a lower penalty count this week from the defending champions. He will also be relishing the anticipated forward battle in the blockbuster match up with the Blues at Eden Park next weekend. If the Crusaders pack turn it on like they did tonight, it will be an absolute cracker.
Crusaders 39 (Leicester Fainga’anuku, Will Jordan, Whetukamokamo Douglas, Mitchell Dunshea tries; Richie Mo’unga 3 con, 2 pen, Fergus Burke con)
Chiefs 17 (Damian McKenzie, Etene Nanai-Seturo tries; McKenzie 2 con, pen)
HT: 11-10 Crusaders