A trio of All Blacks stars have combined to tear the Chiefs’ defence apart during the two side’s Super Rugby Aotearoa clash in Hamilton.
Holding a slender one-point lead over the hosts with 10 minutes remaining in the first half, the Crusaders looked to patiently build a well-structured attack from the middle of the park.
Knocking on the door of the Chiefs’ half, halfback Mitchell Drummond, who is celebrating the milestone of becoming the youngest-ever Crusaders centurion, fired the ball down the short side to halves partner Richie Mo’unga.
The livewire first-five used his dazzling footwork to draw in the defensive attempts of prop Angus Ta’avao and halfback Brad Weber, which created space on his inside for the supporting Scott Barrett.
The blindside flanker, who normally plies his trade at lock, then found himself bursting through a gaping hole in the Chiefs’ defence which allowed him to canter deep into enemy territory.
With Chiefs fullback Chase Tiatia standing in his way as the last line of defence, Barrett weighed up his options and decided to fling an outside ball to speedster Will Jordan.
Handed ample time and space to work his magic, the two-test All Blacks fullback didn’t need a second invitation to fully capitalise on the golden opportunity to extend his side’s lead by an extra five points.
Not even the covering effort of Chiefs first-five Damian McKenzie could halt the 23-year-old outside back as Mo’unga duly converted to give the away side a 17-9 advantage late in the opening stanza.
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The Crusaders went on to hold that advantage heading into the sheds for the half-time break.
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