Game bodes well for rest of sea­son

Matamata Chronicle - - Sport - By STEVEN SA­MUELS

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.

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