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Cruden lauds Chiefs defence

Getty Images     25 May 2013     Getty Images

A combined effort in defence and a superior kicking game were the two main ingredients to the rugby feast served up by the Chiefs on Friday.

With the Crusaders coming off an impressive 23-3 win over the Blues a week earlier, the Christchurch-based franchise entered the Round 15 match against the defending champions as minor favourites.

But the Chiefs proved why they are indeed defending their 2012 title with an impressive defensive display that included wrapping up opposing captain Kieran Read over the try-line – a move that was indicative of their impressive improvements on defence.

Cruden, at the heart of one of two tries that came directly from a charge-down, hailed his side, who extended their lead to 10 points in the New Zealand conference with a bye in Round 16.

"I think the boys really responded this week," said Cruden.

"We knew it was going to would take an 80 minute performance against a solid Crusaders side who are starting to pick up some form.

"I'm really proud of the effort the boys put in tonight. We can head into the bye and then the international window in a really strong position."

The Chiefs will take a two-week break to recouperate following a typically brutal Super Rugby campaign to date. The time off will also give players like Fritz Lee, Ben Afeaki and Gareth Anscombe an opportunity to return into the side from injuries.

Cruden said the break has come at a right time for the injury-hit franchise.

"We're pretty lucky to get the bye week, so we've got a couple of weeks for the boys to put their feet up before they get into the mahi, into our work, in two weeks time and really try and hit the ground running after the international break.

"When you set a benchmark you're always striving to improve that and it's going to be no different for us."

While the obvious struggle for the Chiefs will be replicating that scintillating defensive display after a four-week layoff, Cruden believed his side were capable of doing it.

"I think it will be tough but the boys will try and blow the cobwebs out two weeks before our first match."