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Dublin: 15 °C Monday 13 July, 2020
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Crusaders take rare chances to extend home run to 35

Warren Gatland’s Chiefs were beaten in an ‘arm wrestle’.

Crusaders' Billy Harmon is tackled by Sam Cane of the Chiefs during the Super Rugby Aotearoa clash in Christchurch.
Crusaders' Billy Harmon is tackled by Sam Cane of the Chiefs during the Super Rugby Aotearoa clash in Christchurch.
Image: Mark Baker

AUCKLAND BLUES AND Canterbury Crusaders remain the only unbeaten teams in New Zealand’s Super Rugby competition, after the Crusaders won their grudge match against the Waikato Chiefs 18-13 in Christchurch this morning. 

In wet, greasy conditions, Will Jordan scored twice for the Crusaders to give them two wins from two matches and extended their unbeaten home record to 35. 

The Blues, who have played an extra game, notched their third win on Saturday when they held off a hard-finishing Otago Highlanders 27-24. 

The Chiefs have now lost three from three, the Wellington Hurricanes have lost two from two and the Otago Highlanders have a win and a loss. 

It was a battle of attrition in Christchurch with the tone set midweek when Crusaders prop Joe Moody talked of a “deep-seated hatred” of the Chiefs, which gave visiting coach Warran Gatland all the ammunition he needed for his pre-match pep talk. 

With the constant rain forcing handling errors and dictating a bruising forward clash with lots of kicking by the backs, the result came down to the Crusaders capitalising on the two opportunities that went their way.

“We knew it was going to be a confrontational game and we had to make sure the breakdown was really clean,” Crusaders captain Codie Taylor said

“A young fella like Will Jordan who’s on his toes and just wants to get involved and it’s awesome to see the boys backing their skills especially in conditions like this.”

Chiefs captain Sam Cane called it a “classic arm wrestle” which came down to the Crusaders making the most of key moments.

“There wasn’t much between the two sides and credit to the Crusaders, a couple of opportunistic tries, and a couple of moments can really swing a game,” Cane said.

The Chiefs, who beat the Crusaders earlier this year before the coronavirus pandemic brought a halt to global sport, could claim to have had the better of the first half territorially.

But, they could not break the Crusaders defence and their sole reward was a Damian McKenzie penalty. 

The Crusaders, however, were rewarded from a lineout steal when the Chiefs were on attack. 

Sevu Reece beat McKenzie in the air to reclaim Richie Mo’unga’s clearing kick and sent Jordan away for the try. 

Jordan’s second try early in the second half came from another Chiefs error when an Aaron Cruden pass went into touch. 

While the Chiefs switched off believing there would be a reset for a lineout, Reece took a quick throw-in to Jordan rushing up from fullback and he ran 30 metres untouched to the line.

The Chiefs bagged 10 points early in the final quarter with a converted try to Sean Wainui and another McKenzie penalty but could not find a way through the Crusaders in the closing 10 minutes.

© – AFP 2020 

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