The Chiefs arrived in Christchurch under huge pressure after losing their first two matches in Super Rugby Aotearoa. The Crusaders were looking to stay unbeaten after their opening victory last weekend against the Hurricanes.

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The Chiefs did well with a good share of possession and territory but they couldn’t transfer the dominance into points, going down 18-13 to a doughty Crusaders team that defended staunchly and took their limited chances well.

Here’s how the Chiefs rated.

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Blues vs Highlanders Press Conference

1. Aidan Ross – 6

A couple of dropped balls in closed space but solid on his side of the scrum

2. Bradley Slater – 7

Obviously brought in for his line out work and up until 36 minutes he had the Chiefs firing. Off at 53 minutes.

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3. Nepo Laulala – 6

Succumbed to Moody’s scrum pressure a couple of times. Some nuanced play in the open with good distribution.

4 Mitchell Brown – 6

Nothing flashy but conceded penalty at 60 minutes that got the Crusaders out to 18-3.

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5. Naitoa Ah Kuoi- 7.5

The 20 year old has been playing out of his skin and he had another good full 80 with energetic clean outs and he’s a go to line out option. One for the future.

6. Lachlan Boshier – 6

Had to change his game slightly with captain Cane on board. Couple of penalties conceded at the tackle and was outplayed by Cullen Grace.

7. Sam Cane – 6.5

Led from the front with good maul turnover just before halftime to defuse Crusaders attack close to tryline. Ramped up his ball carrying early in 2nd and had to come back after Karpik head knock.

8. Pita Sowakula – 7.5

With ball in hand he doesn’t seem to have a steering mechanism, he just drives straight and hard! Lovely hands in pop pass that Tupaea dropped at 49 minutes. Workhorse warrior.

9. Brad Weber – 5.5

The halfback seems to have lost his zip and fizz compared with last year. Missed tackle on Jordan for his second try after debating with referee.

10. Aaron Cruden – 8

Awesome influence for the Chiefs. Drove the team well, looked elusive and light on his feet with front foot ball and seems to have added 20 metres to his punt in France.

11. Etene Nanai-Seturo – 6

Last minute call up and a mixed bag. Some good speed at kick off delivering pressure, brutish clearing kick at 52 minutes and some solid hit ups.

12. Anton Lienert-Brown – 7.5

ALB was the iron fist to Cruden and McKenzie’s velvet gloves. Had a ding dong back and forth with Cullen Grace late in first half, dishing it out then receiving.

13. Quinn Tupaea – 5.5

Didn’t quite look himself tonight against a high quality centre pairing. Held on to ball and ignored an overlap on the right early on and at 49 minutes couldn’t pocket simple pass that would have seen him in space. Off at 60.

14. Sean Wainui – 7.5

Did some good work in defence and cover and in the last quarter his strong running really came to the fore, rewarded with try after 64 minutes.

Did some good work in defence and cover and in the last quarter his strong running really came to the fore, rewarded with try after 64 minutes.

15. Damian McKenzie – 8

In the damp conditions he was on a another planet being able to change direction and dance around defenders. Looked solid under the high ball for most of the game but a miscalculation that led to Jordan’s first try.

Reserves

16. Samisoni Taukei’aho – 5

On at 53 and looked nervous. Not straight to the line out first up and a couple of clangers.

17. Reuben O’Neill – on at 62

18. Ross Geldenhuys – on at 62

19. Adam Thomson – on 62

20. Mitch Karpik – 7

On at 62 and good cameo before head knock. He was like a sheepdog around the ball, relishing his time on the field.

21. LIsati Milo-Harris – N/A

22. Kaleb Trask – N/A

23. Tumua Manu on at 60 N/A

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