The Chiefs outscored the Crusaders four tries to two to claim a deserved 27-21 victory in Christchurch on Saturday.
As has become customary between two New Zealand sides there was plenty of thrilling action throughout and the match was evenly poised until the Chiefs secured victory with a late Sam Cane try.
Damian McKenzie was the Chiefs’ hero, contributing 12 points via a try, two conversions and a long-range penalty from the halfway mark.
New fly-half Richie Mo’unga impressed for the Crusaders and scored a try, conversion and three penalties to finish the match with a 16-point haul.
The opening half-hour was a scrappy affair as both sides tried to gain the ascendancy. Mo’unga opened the scoring for the Crusaders from the kicking tee as early as the first minute after the Chiefs were penalised at a scrum.
The next points came 20 minutes later when Mo’unga added another three-pointer from the kicking tee before McKenzie opened the Chiefs’ account with his penalty from 50 metres out.
Shortly afterwards, the Chiefs took the lead when Scott Stevenson ripped the ball from the grasp of David Havili inside the Crusaders’ 22 before crossing for the opening try.
The Crusaders struck back just before half-time when, after pushing the Chiefs off the ball at a scrum, the ball was shifted to Mo’unga who got over for an easy try.
He added the extras which meant the hosts led 13-8 at the break.
The Chiefs took the lead five minutes into the second half when Seta Tamanivalu powered his way over for a try but five minutes later Havili made up for his earlier mistake when he scored in the right-hand corner to restore the home side’s lead.
Mon’unga then added another penalty to push his side further ahead but despite that score it was the Chiefs who finished stronger.
McKenzie crossed for their third try in the 66th minute which he also converted before Cane sealed the result with his five-pointer from a rolling maul at a line-out three minutes before the final whistle.
Tries: Mo’unga, Havili
Pens: Mo’unga 3
Tries: Stevenson, Tamanivalu, McKenzie, Cane
Cons: McKenzie 2
Crusaders: 15 David Havili, 14 Jone Macilai, 13 Sean Wainui, 12 Kieron Fonotia, 11 Nemani Nadolo, 10 Richie Mo’unga, 9 Andy Ellis, 8 Kieran Read, 7 Tim Boys, 6 Jordan Taufua, 5 Samuel Whitelock (c), 4 Scott Barrett, 3 Owen Franks, 2 Codie Taylor, 1 Joe Moody
Replacements: 16 Ben Funnell, 17 Wyatt Crockett, 18 Mike Alaalatoa, 19 Jimmy Tupou, 20 Reed Prinsep, 21 Leon Fukofuka, 22 Ben Volavola, 23 Johnny McNicholl
Chiefs: 15 Damian McKenzie, 14 Shaun Stevenson, 13 Seta Tamanivalu, 12 Charlie Ngatai, 11 James Lowe, 10 Aaron Cruden, 9 Tawera Kerr-Barlow, 8 Tom Sanders, 7 Sam Cane, 6 Taleni Seu, 5 Brodie Retallick, 4 Michael Allardice, 3 Hiroshi Yamashita, 2 Rhys Marshall, 1 Pauliasi Manu
Replacements: 16 Nathan Harris, 17 Mitchell Graham, 18 Siate Tokolahi, 19 Maama Vaipulu, 20 Johan Bardoul, 21 Brad Weber, 22 Anton Lienert-Brown, 23 Latu Vaeno
Referee: Chris Pollock (New Zealand)
Assistant Referees: Jamie Nutbrown (New Zealand), Kane McBride (New Zealand)
TMO: Glenn Newman (New Zealand)