Sat, Apr 18, 2015 - Page 20 News List

Commanding Chiefs crush Crusaders to go top of standings

AFP, WELLINGTON

The Waikato Chiefs dominated the Canterbury Crusaders 26-9 in Christchurch, New Zealand, yesterday to maintain the pressure on Super XV pacesetters the Wellington Hurricanes.

The Chiefs ran in three unanswered tries to go to the top of the standings on 32 points, one ahead of the Hurricanes, who are due to play the New South Wales Waratahs today.

The result also dealt a massive blow to the Crusaders’ playoff prospects, with the seven-time champions now losing five from nine this season.

While the Chiefs, champions in 2012 and 2013, looked refreshed coming off a bye, the Crusaders were listless, despite fielding a starting lineup boasting 10 Test players.

They could find no penetration attacking with ball in hand and frequently miskicked to slump to a second defeat to the Chiefs this season, after a 40-16 mauling in February.

STRONG START

They opened strongly when Tim Nanai-Williams crossed in the fourth minute, only for his effort to be disallowed due to obstruction in the buildup.

A yellow card for flanker Sam Cane then left the Chiefs vulnerable, but the Crusaders failed to capitalize as the sides exchanged penalties.

Chiefs No. 8 Michael Leitch scored the first try when he seized the ball and barged over the line following a Richie McCaw knock-on, but the visitors were also dealt a blow when flyhalf Aaron Cruden limped off with a knee injury, a situation that will be closely monitored by the All Blacks coaching staff.

Andrew Horrell came on as a replacement to kick the conversion and extend the lead to 13-3.

GIFT

The Crusaders narrowed the gap with another penalty, then gifted the Chiefs a second try on the stroke of halftime when halfback Andy Ellis lost the ball forward.

Leitch pounced on it and passed to winger James Lowe, who took off for a 70m breakaway try to make it 18-6 at the break.

The Crusaders could manage only a solitary penalty in the second half, with all the pressure coming from the Chiefs.

Liam Squire put the result beyond doubt with 10 minutes to go after Nanai-Williams sliced through the fumbling Crusaders defense to set him up.

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