Rugby-Crusaders defend Christchurch fortress to reach Super final

With no points scored after halftime on a drizzly, windy night, Cullen Grace grabbed two early tries and Richie Mo'unga gave a flyhalf's masterclass as the Crusaders extended their perfect record in home playoffs to 27 wins. Scott Robertson's side notched a competition record 222 tackles for the match at Rugby League Park, where they were under siege from a relentless Chiefs attack.


Reuters | Updated: 10-06-2022 15:53 IST | Created: 10-06-2022 15:53 IST
Rugby-Crusaders defend Christchurch fortress to reach Super final

The Canterbury Crusaders marched into the Super Rugby final with a 20-7 win over the Waikato Chiefs on Friday, producing stonewall defence to safeguard their Christchurch fortress yet again. With no points scored after halftime on a drizzly, windy night, Cullen Grace grabbed two early tries and Richie Mo'unga gave a flyhalf's masterclass as the Crusaders extended their perfect record in home playoffs to 27 wins.

Scott Robertson's side notched a competition record 222 tackles for the match at Rugby League Park, where they were under siege from a relentless Chiefs attack. "Finals footy is all about defence so there were plenty of good efforts there," said Crusaders skipper Scott Barrett.

"You have to take your hats off to the Chiefs. They threw 120% at us and I'm sure there are going to be some sore bodies over the next few days." Bidding for a sixth championship trophy in as many years, the Crusaders meet the winner of the Auckland Blues and ACT Brumbies who play the other semi-final at Eden Park on Saturday.

The Chiefs needed everything to go right for them to upset the Crusaders but instead blew three, hot try chances. Number eight Pita Gus Sowakula failed to ground the ball in the 12th minute and centre Alex Nankivell blew the second try on the cusp of halftime with an errant pass straight to a Crusader.

Fullback Josh Ioane later sent a pass sailing over Quinn Tupaea's head into the terraces as the unmarked centre streamed toward the right corner in the 54th minute. Only prop Angus Tava'ao managed to cross for the visitors, barging over in the 24th minute after shooting out of a ruck.

"That one really hurts, it’s going to probably be a lot of regrets," Chiefs captain Brad Weber said. "We wanted to create history tonight and beat the Crusaders at home in a playoff match ... I guess it’s one of those ones where we feel like we lost it, rather than we got beaten."

The Crusaders hung tough and made the most of their chances, while spending most of the game camped in their own half. The Chiefs lost Tupaea early to a yellow card for a high tackle on Pablo Matera, who later had his own yellow after the Crusaders conceded seven straight penalties near their goal-line.

The Chiefs were unable to capitalise and were soon 13-0 down after Nankivell spilled a pass while on a dart toward the line, allowing Mo'unga to swoop and winger Sevu Reece to hoof the ball down-field. That paved the way for Grace to sneak around the side of a scrum near the Chiefs line for the first of his tries in the 23rd minute.

He touched down for his second 12 minutes later after Mo'unga sliced open the Chiefs defence with a brilliant line-break and sent a long, looping pass to the Crusaders number eight near the right corner. Neither side moved the score after Mo'unga's second conversion as the match descended into a war of attrition.

The Chiefs could find no way through the wall of red-and-black jerseys as the Crusaders dug in to set up another championship tilt in a week's time.

(This story has not been edited by Devdiscourse staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

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