Chiefs shock defending champions Crusaders in Super Rugby derby
Hamilton - British and Irish Lions coach Warren Gatland continued to make a bold impression in Super Rugby on Saturday as he guided the Chiefs to a 25-15 win over three-time defending champions the Crusaders.
The match pitted Gatland against Crusaders coach Scott Robertson, an applicant for the All Blacks head coaching role last year, and a man many New Zealanders believed should have been given the job.
The Crusaders 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 to go 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 bravely held out waves of Crusaders attacks.
A penalty to flyhalf Aaron Cruden in the 78th minute meant the Crusaders had to score twice to win and they weren't up to the task.
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 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.