Cullen Grace steers Crusaders to finals of Super Rugby Pacific after 20-7 win over Chiefs

Richie Mo'unga contributed 10 points for Crusaders
Richie Mo'unga contributed 10 points for Crusaders
©Steve Haag

Crusaders 20-7 Chiefs, Christchurch

Cullen Grace scored two tries as they edged out Chiefs 20-7 to win the semi-final of the Super Rugby Pacific in Christchurch.

Richie Mo'unga kicked a fifth minute penalty goal to start the proceedings and two minutes later Chiefs were down to 14 players temporarily with Quinn Tupaea sin-binned for striking the head of home flanker Pablo Matera. Mo'unga slotted a second penalty goal to make it 6-0.

The Crusaders lost Matera under a general warning. Opting for another scrum, the Chiefs coughed up the ball when centre Alex Nankivell was unable to pull in a rocket-like pass. Mo'unga was onto the loose ball in a flash. Receiving the ball on the wing, Sevu Reece kicked ahead and with a tail wind, halfback Brad Weber was pinned on the line.

Grace scored the first of his two tries in the 22nd minute at the back of a five-metre scrum but his effort was cancelled out with prop Angus Ta'avao crossing over breaching the defence of Crusaders and Bryn Gatland kicked the conversion to make it 13-7.

The 31st minute saw Matera receive his second yellow card which forced him to be sent-off but despite the setback Mo'unga stepped through a gap at speed to send Grace over for his second try. Mo'unga kicked the conversion as the Crusaders completed the opening half with a 20-7 lead.

The Chiefs had a chance when Pita Sowakula ran close but Gus Sowakula's wayward pass meant they could not add any further to their tally from the first half. Even though the visitors looked for breakthroughs, the defence from Crusaders kept them at bay with Scott Robertson's men edging their way on to the final.

Crusaders XV: 15 Will Jordan, 14 Sevu Reece, 13 Josh Goodhue 12 David Havili (VC), 11 Leicester Fainga’anuku, 10 Richie Mo’unga, 9 Bryn Hall, 8 Cullen Grace, 7 Tom Christie, 6 Pablo Matera, 5 Sam Whitelock, 4 Scott Barrett, 3 Oli Jager, 2 Codie Taylor, 1 George Bower.

Reserves: 16 Brodie McAllister, 17 Tamaiti Williams, 18 Fletcher Newell, 19 Zach Gallagher, 20 Corey Kellow, 21 Mitchell Drummond, 22 Braydon Ennor, 23 George Bridge

Chiefs XV: 15 Josh Ioane 14: Jonah Lowe 13: Alex Nankivell 12: Quinn Tupaea 11: Etene Nanai-Seturo 10: Bryn Gatland 9: Brad Weber 8: Pita Gus Sowakula 7: Luke Jacobson 6: Samipeni Finau 5: Tupou Vaa’i 4: Brodie Retallick 3: Angus Ta’avao 2: Samisoni Taukei’aho 1: Aidan Ross

Reserves: 16 Bradley Slater, 17 Ollie Norris, 18 George Dyer, 19 Naitoa Ah Kuoi, 20 Sam Cane, 21 Xavier Roe, 22 Rameka Poihipi 23 Chase Tiatia