Crusaders rediscover winning form with 11-point win over Chiefs

The defending champion Crusaders swept aside the Chiefs 37-26 in a bruising try-fest in Super Rugby Pacific to post their first win of the season.

Leading by eight points in a tense final 10 minute showdown, the Crusaders converted a late penalty to extend their lead for the drought-breaking 11 point win.

The Cantabrians scored five tries to the Chiefs four after opening their account in positive fashion with two tries inside the opening 15 minutes.

Veteran Johnny McNicholl scored a double for the Crusaders with the side running in five tries for the night in a confidence boosting performance.

McNicholl returned to the Canterbury side recently after playing in Wales for the Scarlets. He grabbed a stunning intercept for his second try, which took the Canterbury side ahead 34 -19 with just under 20 minutes to play.

Crusaders halfback Noah Hotham registered two try assists in a promising start for the home side.

The Chiefs, playing without their All Blacks star Damian McKenzie, produced four tries, and were in the game despite trailing from start to finish.

Second half tries to Anton Lienert-Brown and Cortez Ratima gave the visitors a chance.

Crusaders Captain Tom Christie told SkySport the team lifted their performance in both attack and defence.

“The boys fronted tonight and really lifted from what we’ve had in the past,” he said.

“It just shows, a little bit of adversity.

“I think it was just a sense of freedom, the shackles were off. We just wanted to come out and play Crusaders rugby and I think we came out and did that.”

Christie said motivation was high within the camp to turn around their form after posting five straight losses in a shocking start to the season.

“Everyone would give it all for this jersey, it’s a special thing.”

Cullen Grace of the Crusaders scores a try during the Super Rugby Pacific match, Crusaders Vs Chiefs, at the Apollo Projects Stadium, Christchurch, New Zealand, 29th March 2024. Copyright photo: John Davidson /

Chiefs captain Luke Jacobson said the Crusaders put everything on the line.

“They played with some great tempo, credit to them there,” Jacobson said.

“We didn’t take them lightly that’s for sure but it felt like it was a good game of footy. We came out just a little bit soft in defence.

“We started to play our footy in the second half – we had real confidence but just a few penalties hurt us there.”

Another notable performance came from Crusaders hooker George Bell who dotted down after halftime after a brilliant 30 metre run.

Next week the Crusaders have the bye, while the Chiefs host Moana Pasifika in Hamilton.

Go back over the play-by-play recap of the game: in RNZ’s blog.

According to the news on Radio New Zealand

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