Chiefs 26-25 Crusaders, FMG Stadium Waikato
Damian McKenzie kicked the decisive penalty goal in the 78th minute as Chiefs edged out Crusaders 26-25 in the eighth round of the Super Rugby Aotearoa at FMG Stadium Waikato.
This is fourth consecutive win for Chiefs as they moved to the second position in the table with 16 points while Crusaders still maintain the top place with 23 points.
Crusaders dominated the early exchanges with Leicester Fainga'anuku went past a Chiefs defender to score the opening try in the 5th minute and Richie Mo'unga kicked the conversion to make it 0-7 but the home side fought their way back through three straight penalties from Damian McKenzie making it 9-7.
Will Jordan, who had a try denied earlier following a captain's referral with Mo'unga sending a quick pass to Scott Barrett, who offloaded to the Crusaders fullback for their second try in the 30th minute. Mo'unga kicked a conversion and a penalty on either side as the opening half ended with a 9-17 scoreline.
Chiefs were the quickest to get off the block in the second half with Alex Nankivell making the initial break allowing Lachlan Boshier to dot down while McKenzie's conversion brought the gap down to one point.
Codie Taylor restored six-point lead for Crusaders with a touchdown that came after a rolling maul in the 53rd minute but Mo'unga's conversion hit the post but Chiefs clawed their way back into the game after a long pass from Anton Lienert-Brown sent Jonah Lowe over as he dived over the corner.
McKenzie's conversion put Chiefs into a 23-22 lead but it was short lived as Mo'unga responded with a 65th minute penalty as to put Crusaders two point front as the game headed into the final 10 minutes. However, the closing stage of the game saw Chiefs winning a crucial turnover at breakdown which the Crusaders skipper Barrett challenged but the TMO signalled it in favour of the hosts as McKenzie slotted a nerveless three-pointer in the 78th minute to complete a thrilling one-point win.
Team line up:
Chiefs: 15 Chase Tiatia, 14 Jonah Lowe, 13 Anton Lienert-Brown, 12 Alex Nankivell, 11 Etene Nanai-Seturo, 10 Damian McKenzie, 9 Brad Weber, 8 Luke Jacobson, 7 Lachlan Boshier, 6 Mitchell Brown, 5 Naitoa Ah Kuoi, 4 Tupou Vaa'i, 3 Angus Ta'avao, 2 Samisoni Taukei'aho, 1 Aidan Ross.
Reserves: 16 Nathan Harris, 17 Ollie Norris, 18 Sione Mafileo, 19 Pita Gus Sowakula, 20 Kaylum Boshier, 21 Te Toiroa Tahuriorangi, 22 Bryn Gatland, 23 Sean Wainui.
Crusaders: 15 Will Jordan, 14 Sevu Reece, 13 Leicester Fainga'anuku, 12 David Havili, 11 George Bridge, 10 Richie Mo'unga, 9 Mitchell Drummond, 8 Ethan Blackadder, 7 Tom Sanders, 6 Scott Barrett, 5 Quinten Strange, 4 Mitchell Dunshea, 3 Michael Alaalatoa, 2 Brodie McAlister, 1 George Bower.
Reserves: 16 Codie Taylor, 17 Isileli Tu'ungafasi, 18 Oli Jager, 19 Luke Romano, 20 Sione Havili Talitui, 21 Bryn Hall, 22 Dallas McLeod, 23 Manasa Mataele.