30 Jul 2017

Ruthless Crusaders march into final

5:21 am on 30 July 2017

Winger Seta Tamanivalu grabbed two tries as a ruthless Crusaders team marched past the Chiefs 27-13 to advance to their 12th Super Rugby final.

Seta Tamanivalu of the Crusaders scores a try in the tackle of Tawera Kerr-Barlow.

Crusaders wing Seta Tamanivula scores his first try Photo: PhotoSport

The seven-times champions were brutally efficient in demonstrating how to win a game without the ball as the Chiefs dominated territory as well as possession and split the defensive line on numerous occasions but were unable to finish.

See how it all went down in Jamie Wall's live commentary here

The Crusaders, who have not won the title since 2008, now face the winner of the later semi-final in Johannesburg between the Lions and reigning champion Hurricanes.

Israel Dagg of the Crusaders scores a try.

Israel Dagg crosses the line Photo: PhotoSport

Having slipped up in their last match of the regular season against the Hurricanes, the Crusaders will be relying on their compatriots to beat the Lions and give them a home final.

"I don't know how Seta does it, he seems to make a try out of nothing," said Crusaders captain Sam Whitelock.

"We didn't have the ball much and the boys were definitely blowing and the legs were heavy, but full credit to the boys they were just hanging on and showed some real determination and grit."

A 14-1 regular season record, which included a 31-24 victory in May over the Chiefs, had made the Crusaders strong favourites to progress to the final.

Aaron Cruden of the Chiefs eludes Richie Mo'unga during the first Super Rugby final.

Aaron Cruden eludes Richie Mo'unga Photo: PhotoSport

The Chiefs played the far more expansive game, however, looking dangerous with the ball in hand and stretching the Crusaders across the field but their only reward for their first-half efforts was two penalties from Damian McKenzie.

Bryn Hall of the Crusaders runs in to score his try.

Bryn Hall running in for the Crusaders Photo: PhotoSport

The home side, by contrast, capitalised on the few opportunities they created with All Blacks Ryan Crotty and Israel Dagg sparking a sweeping counter attack that ended with scrumhalf Bryn Hall scoring.

Flyhalf Richie Mo'unga, who had slotted an earlier penalty, converted to give the Crusaders a 10-6 lead at halftime.

The home side moved further ahead when Mo'unga created a try by tackling James Lowe as the winger was trying to make a clearing kick and the ball popped into Dagg's hands.

Tamanivalu stormed over from an attacking scrum to score his first try and then grabbed his second to give the Crusaders a 27-6 lead with eight minutes remaining.

Brodie Retallick finally breached the Crusaders' line for a consolation try for the visitors before they bid farewell to stalwarts Tawera Kerr Barlow, Aaron Cruden, Lowe and coach Dave Rennie, who are all joining clubs in Europe.

"Rugby is a momentum game and we thought we created a lot of chances ... but you have to give credit to the Crusaders, they scrambled really well and when we looked to have them on the ropes they did enough to hold us out," flyhalf Cruden said.

"We gave everything we had. It was a great campaign ... and we can hold our heads up."

Brodie Retallick of the Chiefs is tackled by Crusader Richie Mo'unga.

Brodie Retallick of the Chiefs is tackled by Crusader Richie Mo'unga. Photo: PhotoSport