Chiefs shock defending champion Crusaders in Super Rugby

HAMILTON,New Zealand – February 10, 2020: 10am (AP): British and Irish Lions coach Warren Gatland continued to make a bold impression in Super Rugby as he guided the Chiefs to a 25-15 win over three-time defending champions the Crusaders in an all-New Zealand matchup on Saturday.

The game pitted Gatland against Crusaders coach Scott Robertson, an applicant for the All Blacks coaching role last year and a man many New Zealanders believed should have been given the job.

The Crusaders, Super Rugby’s most successful team, made an explosive beginning with two tries inside the first 15 minutes to All Blacks winger Sevu Reece, and looked set to dominate the game.

Playing with little possession, the Chiefs managed to score a try of their own and went to halftime only four points down at 12-8. They seized the lead with another try only three minutes into the second spell which gave them the lead for the first time.

The Crusaders leveled the scores with a penalty but the Chiefs pulled away again with a try to winger Sean Wainui and held out waves of Crusaders attacks.

A penalty by flyhalf Aaron Cruden in the 78th minute meant the Crusaders had to score twice to win and they weren’t up to the task.

Gatland’s Chiefs have started the new season with two wins from two.

The Crusaders have only lost two of their last 16 derby matches against New Zealand teams and both of those were to the Chiefs, the first a loss in Suva, Fiji, last year.

“The thing you notice about these derbies and these matches that have a bit riding on them is that they’re personal,” Chiefs captain Sam Cane said.

“They’re physical, they’re brutal and there were some key moments in that game that could have gone either way. But there were some big defensive efforts tonight and we just stuck at it.”

One of the biggest defensive efforts came from Cane himself who made many crucial tackles and forced turnovers. Cruden was again a steadying influence on the Chiefs, as was All Blacks fullback Damian McKenzie who played his first match of the season and acted as a second playmaker.

Later in South Africa, the Stormers moved to the top of the overall standings after going their first two games — 160-plus minutes of rugby — without conceding a point. The Stormers beat South African rivals the Bulls 13-0 at home in Cape Town with tries by hooker Scarra Ntubeni and wing Seabelo Senatla.

The Stormers’ story so far has been their defense and they wouldn’t budge again despite the Bulls having scrummaging superiority in the first half and long periods of pressure in the second.

Veteran Wales and British and Irish Lions center Jamie Roberts, a new signing for the Stormers, showed his value again to marshal a defensive line that gave the Bulls few openings.

The Stormers opened their campaign last weekend with a 27-0 shutout of New Zealand’s Hurricanes.

For the first time in their 25-year history, the New South Wales Waratahs lost consecutive matches to start the season after being defeated 32-12 by the Blues in Newcastle, north of Sydney.

The Blues ran in five tries to the Waratahs’ two to seal the bonus-point victory. It was the New Zealand side’s fifth straight win over the Waratahs.

The Lions bounced back from an opening-weekend loss to the Jaguares to hold off the Queensland Reds 27-20 in Johannesburg.

Replacement scrumhalf Jamie Booth scored a try in the 77th minute as the Wellington-based Hurricanes, held scoreless last week for the first time in 20 years, beat the Jaguares 26-23 in Buenos Aires.

Last year’s beaten finalists, the Jaguares led for most of the match and seemed to have clinched back to back wins when Agustin Creevy crashed over in the 63rd minute to give them their biggest lead at 23-12.

But the Hurricanes scored their first try of the season in the 70th minute and center Ngani Leaumape created the match-winner three minutes from fulltime. There was drama when the Argentine television official tried to intervene and call a forward pass but South African referee Rasta Rasivhenge refused to change his call….PACNEWS

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