The Chiefs and Crusaders are both desperate for a win in tonight’s Super Rugby Aotearoa derby – for very different reasons – but it’s the visitors that have shown their dominance early in the game.

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Perhaps it’s the fact that the Crusaders lost their four-year undefeated streak at home last weekend when the Hurricanes travelled to Christchurch and caused a massive upset or perhaps it’s the fact that Sam Whitelock is celebrating his 150th match but whatever the case, the Crusaders started the match in dominant fashion.

The Chiefs had the opportunity for the first points of the game after the Crusaders were penalised for getting themselves offside on defence. Damian McKenzie, New Zealand’s most accurate goal-kicker this season, couldn’t land the shot from a handy distance, however.

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From that point on, the first quarter was all the Crusaders.

When the travelling side found themselves with an overlap on the blindside, they exploited it with ease – despite primarily having low-number forwards.

Five metres inside the Chiefs’ half, halfback Mitch Drummond spun the ball out to Sam Whitelock who threw a backdoor pass to George Bridge. Bridge found hooker Codie Taylor who drew in the last defender and then gave loose forward Tom Sanders – who spent two seasons with the Chiefs in 2016 and 2017 – the ball in open space on the 10-metre line.

Sanders needed no second invitation and sprinted down the pitch with just a covering Damian McKenzie on hand to stop the rampaging bull.

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The diminutive McKenize was no match for the bigger man, however, and the former Chief crashed over the tryline to score the Crusaders’ first try.

Richie Mo’unga couldn’t add the extra points but only minutes later, the Crusaders were in again. After almost 20 phases of attack, try-scoring machine Will Jordan was able to run in untouched, giving the Crusaders a 12-0 lead.

After all that, the Crusaders led the possession and territory statistics 90 to 10 and the Chiefs were facing an uphill battle.

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Thankfully for Chiefs supporters, the home team were able to notch a try of their own as the match crept into the second quarter – but they won’t want to give the Crusaders even further opportunities for points in the first half.

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