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Chiefs players ratings vs Crusaders | Super Rugby Aotearoa Final

By Mike Rehu

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The Chiefs arrived to find the vocal Christchurch crowd in full voice and the four time champions at full throttle. The Crusaders had two tries and 12 points on the board after 16 minutes and it looked like it would be one way traffic.

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The Chiefs, however, love a scrap and they pulled it back to two points and then were in the driver’s seat for long periods in the next two quarters.

But Damian McKenzie’s golden boot deserted him and the Chief’s failed to take advantage of the 2 man edge for ten minutes, when it came to the home leg they’d run out of wind and the champions sailed home with a wet spinnaker, final score 24-13.

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Crusaders assistant coach Tamati Ellison previews the Super Rugby Aotearoa final

Here’re the Chiefs’ ratings

1. Aidan Ross – 5.5

He was one of the handful of Chiefs’ players who seemed to be phased by the big occasion, his scrummaging was not as effective as we’d seen. The Chiefs were far more disciplined then the Crusaders, but Ross conceded the first penalty, offside in the 6th minute that eventually led to the first try. Off at 53.

2. Samisoni Taukei’aho – 7

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Struggled in the first half at lineout time with few viable targets and the fact that the calls seemed to go to where Whitelock was. He got going in the 25th minute with ball in hand with an inspiring carry from his tryline, although soon after a mortifying moment when even the beefy hooker was bounced off by Leicester Fainga’anuku. Started the second half with more pickups than my local courier, ten carries in total. A good season for the hooker.

3. Angus Ta’avao – 6

Scrum was not the weapon it has been in the last month, even when the Crusaders were down in pack numbers. He was a powerhouse in the the middle of the field and will have big bruiser on his right cheek tomorrow as he led with his face once too often. Off at 62.

4. Tupou Vaa’i – 5.5

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Huge pressure on him as THE lineout jumper for his team in the first half and was schooled by Whitelock. He is always handy around the field and will learn from this defeat.

5. Mitch Brown – 5

Had a knock in the first half, the lineout was scruffy so he was replaced.

6. Pita Gus Sowakula – 6

Good first tackle on Bridge but missed Havili seconds later in the first stanza. Carried his heart out but the Crusaders knew he would be coming and were waiting to close him down.

7. Lachlan Boshier – 7

Always a stealthy danger in the tackle and Crusaders worked hard on cleaning him out but they couldn’t stop a couple of turnovers at key times. Equal top tackles in the game, he even had his kicking boots on with a lovely punt at the start of the 2nd half. Off at 66.

8. Luke Jacobson – 7

Made some good metres and always challenged the line. 43 metres and 10 carries, and also a powerhouse at the breakdown. He should get another All Black chance or two this year.

9. Brad Weber – 6

Head knock at 12 and didn’t look right. Good call to take him off for an HIA but he returned with a vengeance to direct his team. Finally off at 69.

10. Bryn Gatland – 6.5

In the frenetic pace he was one, cool, calm presence. That was until he pulled the behind the back 20 metre pass in the 39th minute! (that was under advantage, to be fair). Off at 44 and in hindsight could have been the best player to exploit a two man advantage if he’d been on the field.

11. Etene Nanai-Seturo – 5

Another Chief who couldn’t continue his fine form in the final. Missed Fainga’anuku in the 7th minute and couldn’t get back to his wing to halt Reece for the first try. Knocked on a tough pass in 22nd and just wasn’t able to inject himself into the action and show clean footwork like we’ve seen from him in regular season.

12. Alex Nankivell – 6

Dainty stepping in the first minutes, good work over the ball on Reece to win an important turnover in 19th minute and then seconds later beat Reece, drew Jordan and slid a perfect ball to Dmac for their first try. Also stepped up to close down Fainga’anuku after he caused chaos early. Off at 65.

13. Anton Lienert-Brown – 6.5

Fantastic tackle on Drummond to save a try in the 4th minute. Inserted himself into the attack around the 13th-14th minute to set up the Chiefs’ first points. He is the best type of glue for any midfield and will be an important All Black in the next year or two.

14. Jonah Lowe – 7

He is an energiser bunny and he left his best until tonight. Magic piece of play around 32 minutes with a party trick pass to McKenzie and then moments later he received a challenging ball to almost pull off a miracle try. Didn’t quite have the pace to make the most of his chance in space at 47.

15. Damian McKenzie – 6.5

Finally the pressure of being Mr Clutch showed, Dmac was superb but he couldn’t do it all and as his goal kicking touch deserted him it felt like a little of the absolute confidence drained from him. Muffed the bouncing ball in the Jordan try but was constantly a danger with the ball in hand, top metres for his team and a lovely finish in the corner.

Reserves:

16. Bradley Slater – 5

On at 62. Busy at tackle time, a loose lineout throw at 69.

17. Ollie Norris – 5

On at 53 and is good around the field. Needs a few feeds to be a starter at scrum time.

18. Sione Mafileo – 4

On at 62 and he got bested by the boy-mountain Williams. You get the feeling he won’t be the last!

19. Naitoa Ah Kuoi – 6

On at 40. Immediately in the action taking control of one off balls, the lineout improved and sent a message to the selectors that they’d made a mistake in not picking him to start.

20. Zane Kapeli –  4

On at 66. Wasn’t able to create chances.

21. Te Toiroa Tahuriorangi – 5.5

On at 12 for Weber’s HIA, threw a juicy pass for Dmac’s try. On at 69 again but the Crusaders were irrepressible at that stage.

22. Rameka Poihipi – 6

On at 65. Had some strong carries and is improving with every outing.

23. Chase Tiatia – 5.5

On at 44. Enabled a turnover at 46 with a tasty tackle and counter ruck. Then an exquisite chip and collect but denied by Whitelock at the breakdown. Got tagged at 76 trying to outpace Mo’unga but got caught and the resulting penalty meant game over.

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Chiefs players ratings vs Crusaders | Super Rugby Aotearoa Final

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