Crusaders clinch seventh consecutive Super Rugby title after beating Chiefs 25-20

Codie Taylor scored two tries for Crusaders
Codie Taylor scored two tries for Crusaders
©Steve Haag

Chiefs 20-25 Crusaders, Hamilton

Codie Taylor starred with a double while Richie Mo'unga contributed with 15 points as Crusaders edged out Chiefs 25-20 in the final of the Super Rugby Pacific in Hamilton.

This is also Crusaders' 12th Super Rugby title and seventh straight championship as they give a perfect send-off to their head coach Scott Robertson, who is set to take over from Ian Foster as the All Blacks coach post the Rugby World Cup this year.

Crusaders kicked an early penalty to the corner before Richie Mo'unga slotted a three-pointer in the 8th minute to start the proceedings before Chiefs were down to 14 players temporarily with Anton Lienert-Brown sin-binned for a dangerous tackle on Crusaders wing Dallas McLeod.

The indiscipline did not cost Chiefs much as they did well not to concede any point in the next 10 minutes before Damian McKenzie levelled the scores with a 19th minute penalty goal.

The Chiefs went into the ascendancy as Shaun Stevenson collected Alex Nankivell’s pass to touchdown and McKenzie improved to make it 10-3. Chiefs were punished again as Luke Jacobson was yellow carded but this time they paid the price as Taylor dived over at the back of a maul.

Mo'unga missed the conversion but made amends in the 36th minute as he crossed over after good works from Will Jordan and Leicester Fainga’anuku. He also kicked the conversion as Crusaders completed the opening half with a 10-15 lead.

Chiefs showed better intent in the second half as Stevenson set up Emoni Narawa over for their second try and McKenzie followed with a conversion and a penalty goal to stretch their lead to 20-15.

The game once again turned on it's head as Sam Cane was the third Chiefs player to be sin-binned in the 70th minute leaving them with 14 players in the closing stage and Taylor scored his second at the back of a maul and Mo'unga kicked a conversion and a penalty goal to make it 20-25 and another title victory.

Team line up:

Chiefs: 15 Shaun Stevenson, 14 Emoni Narawa, 13 Alex Nankivell, 12 Anton Lienert-Brown, 11 Etene Nanai-Seturo, 10 Damian McKenzie, 9 Brad Weber (co-captain), 8 Luke Jacobson, 7 Sam Cane (co-captain), 6 Pita Gus Sowakula, 5 Tupou Vaa’i, 4 Brodie Retallick, 3 George Dyer, 2 Samisoni Taukei’aho, 1 Aidan Ross.

Reserves: 16 Tyrone Thompson, 17 Ollie Norris, 18 John Ryan, 19 Naitoa Ah Kuoi, 20 Samipeni Finau, 21 Cortez Ratima, 22 Josh Ioane, 23 Rameka Poihipi..

Crusaders: 15 Will Jordan, 14 Dallas McLeod, 13 Braydon Ennor, 12 Jack Goodhue, 11 Leicester Fainga’anuku, 10 Richie Mo’unga, 9 Mitch Drummond, 8 Christian Lio-Willie, 7 Tom Christie, 6 Sione Havili Talitui, 5 Sam Whitelock, 4 Scott Barrett (captain), 3 Oli Jager, 2 Codie Taylor, 1 Tamaiti Williams.

Reserves: 16 George Bell, 17 Kershawl Sykes-Martin, 18 Reuben O’Neill, 19 Quinten Strange, 20 Dom Gardiner, 21 Willi Heinz, 22 Fergus Burke, 23 Chay Fihaki.