The BNZ Crusaders' finishing power, boosted by a game-breaking penalty try 10 minutes from the end, knocked the stuffing out of the Chiefs who were beaten 45-23 at AMI Stadium in Christchurch on Saturday.
Two late intercept tries, one a superb pick-up by George Bridge, blew the score out in the BNZ Crusaders' first game of the season.
The penalty try came after a Lachlan Boshier tackle when defending the Chiefs line, as Crusaders centre Ryan Crotty was attempting to score a try. 

With the replacement flanker Boshier receiving a yellow card, and the Chiefs forced to throw caution to the wind, the topsy-turvy game was finally swung the way of the Crusaders.

Having started promisingly, courtesy of a break by centre Anton Lienert-Brown 39 seconds into the game when he was fed into space by first five-eighths Damian McKenzie, the Chiefs failed to build on that and while they held the lead briefly in the second half, they were unable to sustain momentum. 

The Crusaders' first try of the match came after a steady build-up, with centre Jack Goodhue running into open space to link with fullback David Havili. Halfback Bryn Hall attempted to get over from the ruck but it was flanker Matt Todd who crossed five minutes after the start.

McKenzie kicked the ball out on the full and the Crusaders built another position although it was from a Chiefs lineout that second five-eighths Johnny Fa'auli collided with Crotty. The ball dropped free and first five-eighths Richie Mo'unga was able to toe it ahead, get the favourable bounce and score.

Not even the loss of Mo'unga to the sinbin to a breakdown offence while off his feet could deny the Crusaders. They rallied, applied more pressure and wore down the Chiefs defence and space was provided out wide for loose forward Jordan Taufua to score.

Chiefs spirits were not down and after some effective tidying work by wing Shaun Stevenson the ball was moved for McKenzie to fire a short pass to flanker Sam Cane who raced into the gap 45m out from the line and then unleashed his speed, some evasive running, and went over for a stunning try.

The Chiefs, when playing under penalty advantage in the Crusaders' 22  were then able to create a chance for wing Solomon Alaimalo to break the line and score to get the Chiefs back to 17-19 down at the break.

While McKenzie landed a 56th minute penalty goal to give the Chiefs a one-point lead, the Crusaders worked their scrum power to advantage. It was from a 61st minute scrum that Crotty punched hard at the line and gave Goodhue the chance to run hard into the 22m area. From the ruck, replacement hooker Ben Funnell timed a pass for lock Sam Whitelock to charge at the line and score.

It was evidence that the finishing strength that marked the Crusaders' successful campaign in 2017 continued in their first match of 2018.

Scorers: Crusaders 45 (Matt Todd, Richie Mo'unga, Jordan Taufua, Sam Whitelock , penalty try, George Bridge, Manasa Mataele tries; Mo'unga 3 con; David Havili con) Chiefs 23 (Sam Cane, Solomon Alaimalo tries; Damian McKenzie 2 con, 3 pen). HT: 19-17
(Edited) match report courtesy of