Chiefs go second on table after thrilling win over Crusaders

By Te Ao - Māori News

Chiefs' star Damian Mckenzie has done it again, kicking the match-winner to nab an outstanding 26-25 victory over the Crusaders and make it an impressive four-in-a-row for a Waikato side who have well and truly shaken off their losing streak.

The Chiefs fans were on the edge of their seats for much of the game as their team battled to keep in striking distance of the Crusaders, going into the break 17-9 down after the Southern men scored two first-half tries to none.

Source / All Blacks (YouTube)

But the tables finally turned for the Chiefs midway through the second-half after winger Jonah Lowe stretched out in a tackle for a try in the corner to grab the lead 23-22, courtesy of a long curling pass from Anton Lienert-Brown in centre field that set up the no. 14's brilliant finish.

Minutes later, the lead swung back to the Crusaders after Richie Mo’unga kicked a penalty straight out in front that nudged them in front 25-23. 

But it was an offside call against a Crusaders side defending inside their half that saw the Chiefs awarded a penalty and the chance to win the game, with less than five minutes left on the clock. For the third time this season, Mckenzie delivered the magic, kicking the goal from 35 metres out and handing the Chiefs their fourth straight win and lifting them to second on the table. 

Chiefs coach Clayton McMillan revealed post-match that putting McKenzie in at no. 10, when he usually plays at fullback, had been a gamble that paid off. "I thought he was really good and now we've got another option there."

The Chiefs are at home to the Hurricanes next weekend, while the Crusaders host the Blues in Christchurch.

After their second loss of the competition, Crusaders coach Scott Robertson said his team had to raise their game.

"What it has done is make you realise that if you’re not on in all your game this competition can slip away quite quickly."

Chiefs 26 (Lachlan Boshier, Jonah Lowe tries; Damian McKenzie 2 con, 4 pen) Crusaders 25 (Leicester Fainga'anuku, Will Jordan, Codie Taylor tries; Richie Mo’unga 2 con, 2 pen). HT: 9-17.