Crusaders’ masterclass show in semis win

THE Crusaders put on a masterclass in playoff rugby as they defeated the Chiefs 27-13 at AMI Stadium on Saturday night in Christchurch to reach their record 12th Super Rugby final and first since 2014.

The seven-time champions outscored their fellow Kiwis, four tries to one with Seta Tamanivalu scoring a second-half double to go with Bryn Hall and Israel Dagg’s tries as Scott Robertson’s men outclassed the Waikato team.

The Chiefs had won four of the previous five encounters and had beaten their opponents in back-to-back semi-finals in 2012 and 2013, however, the Crusaders had never lost a home playoff fixture, and they continued that run.

Brodie Retallick scored a late try for his side but it was of little consequence. Going into the last 15 minutes, the Crusaders had just 28 percent possession and 25 percent territory, spent only a minute inside the Chiefs’ 22, while the visitors had spent over five minutes — crazy.

The home team’s defence was superb, making 143 of 172 tackles at 83 percent success rate. Conversely, Dave Rennie’s side made 47 of 57 tackles, showing just how dominant his team were, but they just lost the most important statistic: the scoreboard.

The home team raced to a 10-0 lead inside the opening quarter. Richie Mo’unga’s 14th-minute penalty was followed by Hall’s five-pointer.

It started inside their half with Dagg beginning the counter-attack. Ryan Crotty beat two tacklers before offloading back to the wing. Dagg raced forward, drew Tim Nanai-Williams and gave the ball to the scrum-half, who sped clear for the game’s first try.

Mo’unga’s conversion made it an early two-score game. Nanai-Williams thought he had scored a couple of minutes later, but TMO Glenn Newman decided that the ball was lost forward in the grounding and the try did not stand.

Damian McKenzie, who has played every minute of every game this season, kicked two penalties to reduce the deficit to four at the break.

The entire half was dominated by the visitors but they just could not finish, making silly errors and choosing the wrong options.

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