Game bodes well for rest of season
The Chiefs played the Crusaders on Friday night in front of a crowd of 22,000 at Waikato Stadium. This was a huge game for both teams as they were both playing for a place at the top of the table.
The Chiefs made only minor changes from the previous week’s team, such as props Paulisi Manu and Ben Tamifuna.
The other changes were in the backline where Patrick Osborne came in in place of Lelia Masaga.
The Crusaders seemed to employ strange selection policies, as two of their biggest players, Robbie Fruean and Israel Dagg, were both on the bench.
To me it seems very odd that these two players were not on from the start, because there was a lot at stake.
One thing from the outset that was most impressive, was the way the Chiefs physically took it to the forward pack, which took the Crusaders by surprise.
They are usually the ones giving out the punishment, rather than receiving it.
However, the Crusaders were first on the board with a Tom Taylor penalty.
A few minutes later, the Crusaders packed a scrum down on the 22, the ball came to Dan Carter who put in a kick off his trusty left foot, only to see it charged down by Aaron Cruden, who chased, re-gathered and scored under the posts.
Almost immediately, the Crusaders replied with a try by Matt Todd converted by Taylor.
Amazingly, the Chiefs got another charge down, when captain Craig Clarke got in the way of Carter’s clearance and dotted down in the corner, putting the score at 15 – 13 at halftime.
We have a great record of winning games when we lead at halftime, winning every time so far this season.
The Crusaders added a couple of penalties after the resumption.
For an agonisingly lengthy period, the Crusaders had us pinned against our try line as they hammered attack after attack, with the Chiefs determined not to allow them over the line.
Bundee Aki epitomised this monumental effort when he somehow managed to hang on to Kieren Read and prevent him from grounding the ball.
When the Chiefs finally managed to break out, the Crusaders must have been quite deflated after having exerted so much pressure for so long and yet achieving nothing.
After this breakout, the Chiefs managed to score when Bundee Aki rubbed salt into the wound by scoring close to the posts.
I personally thought referee Steve Walsh had one of his better games.
He let the game flow, letting the game live up to the hype.
I think it was a great match to watch and hopefully it can lead on to another title run.