Crusaders march on
Chiefs come up short in Hamilton
Last Updated: 06/07/12 10:23am
The Crusaders kept alive their play-off hopes as they toppled the league-leading Chiefs 28-21 in Hamilton.
An enthralling New Zealand derby went right to the wire, however the Canterbury franchise had their fast start and a tremendous defensive effort at the death to thank for their win.
Tries from Kieran Read, Luke Romano and Andy Ellis provided the platform, while Dan Carter added 13 points.
The Chiefs kept plugging away, though, with Brodie Retallick and Sonny Bill Williams crossing for tries, while Aaron Cruded slotted over 11 points.
The Chiefs had opened the scoring after just two minutes when Cruden slotted over a penalty after some superb attacking play from the fly-half and Tawera Kerr-Barlow.
However the Crusaders responded in fine style with Carter slotting over a penalty and then a conversion after a good spell of pressure on the Chiefs line saw Read power over.
The boot of Cruden cut the deficit with a penalty, only for Carter to slot over a drop-goal to put the Crusaders 13-6 in front.
And the Chiefs looked to be on the ropes when Romano pounced on Ellis' clever grubber to score. Carter converted.
But the home side hit back through Retallick, with the lock crashing over from close range after the impressive Kerr-Barlow had sucked in the defence. Cruden converted.
And a good spell of pressure - highlighted by Sona Taumalolo's breath-taking run - resulted in another penalty from Cruden before the break.
Cruden hit the posts with another shot at goal just after the restart, but it the Crusaders who started the second half the better.
And the visitors were rewarded with a controversial score through Ellis. The All Blacks scrum-half appeared to have grounded the ball short of the line before he was driven over - but the TMO deemed that the try was legal.
A brilliant finish, though, from Williams kept the Chiefs in the game, with the centre powering over one would-be tackling before wriggling away from the efforts of three others to reach out and score.
The Crusaders extended their lead to seven through Carter's boot and it proved decisive as the Chiefs threw everything at them in attack.
Asaeli Tikoirotuma went close while Williams should have spun the ball wide with the last play - but the Crusaders stood firm deep into injury time.