The Crusaders booked their place in the inaugural Super Rugby Pacific final when they sealed a hard-fought 20-7 victory in Friday’s semi-final against the Chiefs in Christchurch.
The home side took their chances on attack as they outscored the Chiefs by two tries to one with Cullen Grace scoring both, while their other points came via the boot of Richie Mo’unga, who succeeded with a couple of penalties and as many conversions.
For the Chiefs, Angus Ta’avao crossed the whitewash and Bryn Gatland added a conversion.
Mo’unga succeeded with his penalties inside the first 10 minutes before Grace crossed for the opening try off the back of a scrum deep inside Chiefs territory in the 23rd minute. The visitors struck back shortly afterwards when Ta’avao went over and the Crusaders were forced to play with 14 men for 20 minutes when Pablo Matera received his second yellow card in the 32nd minute for a dangerous tackle.
Despite that setback, the Crusaders finished the opening half with their tails up when Grace scored his second try after brilliant work from Mo’unga in the build-up.
The second half was a tight affair and although the Chiefs did most of the attacking, they were met by a solid defensive effort from the Crusaders.
With a strong wind at their backs, the Chiefs dominated the possession and territorial stakes but neither side managed to score points after the interval and the Crusaders held on for the win which secured their place in a Super Rugby final for the 16th time.
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