The Chiefs sent Hamilton and surrounding cow country into a frenzy by pipping the Crusaders 26-25, showing belief and skill to underline they are contenders for this competition, with four wins in a row.

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The home team had a dominant scrum, a steady lineout, territorial advantage and enough guts to stay in the fight as the lead changed 6 times. Richie Mo’unga will rue his final missed conversion from a handy spot.

Here’re the Chiefs’ ratings:

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1. Aidan Ross – 8

I think he’s taken the mantle of form loosehead prop off de Groot in the last fortnight. Powerful at scrum time, popped up with ball in hand and top tackler for his team. Relentless. Off at 61.

2. Samisoni Taukei’aho – 8.5

Finally a game where he wrapped up all his skills in one performance. Amazing leg drive which obviously helped in the scrum too and good results at lineout time with no Whitelock. Off at 61.

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3. Angus Ta’avao – 7.5

He is a great anchor and the coaches leave him on for as long as they can. Massive scrums, nice work at the maul swimming through for a penalty at 34. The commentator Nisbo confused him for Nankivell in the 43rd minute so he’ll want to play at 12 next week! Off at 69.

4. Tupou Vaa’i – 8

Lovely soft hands at 8 minutes, smashing clean outs at 14 and 35 minutes. Looked to do enough to get out of tackle but was penalised at 28 minutes to give the Crusaders a 10-9 lead. My opinion last year was he was 2 years away from regular test starts but with current form he’d slot in pretty easily right now. Off at 63.

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5. Naitoa Ah Kuoi – 8.5

One handed Colin Meads type runs at 10 and 42 minutes make me a little nervous but incredible ball skills, he must be an ex-basketball player the way he carries and passes the ball. Brilliant last minute turnover that won his team the game, thank God the refs got the challenge right or they’d have to lock themselves in under the stand for a while!

6. Mitch Brown – 6

Toils away and an important complement for the two young athletic locks. At 72 minutes he gave away a stupid penalty around the side of maul. Could have cost his team the win.

7. Lachlan Boshier – 7

If we ever wondered if he still had it we needed to wait only 15 minutes 42 seconds for his first turnover, what a doozy on Will Jordan. Got himself a try from 20 centimetres out and looks a little bigger, which won’t harm his All Black chances. Needs a big 3 weeks. Off at 69.

8. Luke Jacobson – 7.5

Silly start going over to nudge Sevu Reece (who dived like an soccer striker) that led to the Faing’anuku try. Great defensive rucking in the 23rd minute. Featured 3 times in an attacking passage just before halftime but got robbed by Sanders just as it looked as though it was try time. Got carried away with the chicken wings off the right arm by popping one to the head of Ta’ava that led to Codie Taylor try.

9. Brad Weber – 7

Good leadership and crisp distribution. Almost had his head taken off by Bower early on, good pressure on Blackadder at the scrum that turned into their 2nd penalty. Off at 65, love his post-match bashful interview style.

10. Damian McKenzie – 8

Didn’t overplay his hand but allowed others around him to prosper. Really orchestrated the attack at 10 minutes that led to their first penalty. Looking comfortable taking the ball flat on the front foot. Great kicking under pressure with a conversion at 61 minutes from the sideline and then the last cool-as-ice penalty. 6 from 6 at the tee.

11. Etene Nanai-Seturo – 7

Some good impact with the ball in hand and loved his dominant tackles of Reece and Dunshea at 29 minutes.

12. Alex Nankivell – 6.5

First half was a little off with a scruffy pass and a couple of lineout wins was all he had to show and it looked as though the Chiefs missed Tupaea big time. Then in the second 40 he came alive averaging ten metres a carry and giving his team momentum. Off at 61.

13. Anton Lienert-Brown – 8

He’s a lion with his leadership and waits for his chances and makes the most of them. Saw an opportunity in the 36th minute attack as he ran round Sanders.Beautiful round the back pass at 58 minutes and then moments later the last pass to Jonah Lowe for his try. Top metres for his team.

14. Jonah Lowe – 6.5

Covers some ground every week. Lots of head down running into contact before he got a chance to finish and he did well to dot it down from a standing start. Off at 63.

15. Chase Tiatia – 7

He has insane skills, brave in the air and the casual flick of a 15 metre looped pass to Dmac inside the 22m and another to Lowe. Nice to see him inject himself more into the line and carving off metres with his left foot in the second stanza.

Reserves:

16. Nathan Harris – 7

On at 61. Great to see him back from a long injury break and showed nerves of steel in the last few line outs.

17. Ollie Norris – 6

On at 61. First action was to go offside (with his hands) but is good around the field and bested Jager at scrumtime.

18. Sione Mafileo – 6

On at 69. Some huge scrums.

19. Pita Gus Sowakula – 6

On at 63. Stepped with ball in hand.

20. – Kaylum Boshier – N/A

On at 69.

21. Te Toiroa Tahuriorangi – 5.5

On at 65. Looks to be playing with too much nervous energy. Got up on McLeod to chase the kick at 66 minutes but couldn’t tackle him. Had a crucial run in the 77th minute but it broke down but they had the advantage and McKenzie kicked the winning penalty.

22. Bryn Gatland – N/A

On at 63.

23. Sean Wainui – 5

On at 61 and missed a chance at 67 with a huge hole beckoning.

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