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Chiefs get handy half-time lead over Crusaders

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Sportal.co.nz     27 Jul 2012     Getty Images

The signs were good from the outset for the home team who looked a sharper, more unified, combination than in the previous game between the two sides three weeks ago.

Playmaker and first five-eighths Aaron Cruden demonstrated assuredness on attack on one occasion opening a gap with a hip shimmy and carrying play to the line after Williams had earlier cleared the advantage line.

It was a concentrated start by the home team, hunting as a pack, hitting hard in defence with prop Ben Tameifuna demonstrating the intent within the side with two powerful early tackles. He also got away with a bit of lineout stoush when referee Craig Joubert wrongly fingered his propping partner Sona Taumalolo.

While Cruden opened the scoring with a second minute penalty goal, that was negated 12 minutes later by Carter. However, Cruden missed two chances, one of them from 55m.

Another Williams line break and quick transfer outside to Cruden saw a linking pass to halfback Tawera Kerr-Barlow allow him up towards the line and then the Chiefs pack arrived en masse and it was Taumalolo who burrowed across for his ninth try of the season, and in his 50th Super Rugby game.

Carter pulled the Crusaders back to 6-10 with a 31st minute penalty goal after Tameifuna was ruled to have collapsed the scrum.

The Chiefs swarmed after the re-start kick and halfback Andrew Ellis copped the lot and it was a scrambled clearing kick by second five-eighths Ryan Crotty which was fielded by Chiefs' No.8 Kan Thompson. He fed fullback Robbie Robinson who opened up space, again, through the centre of the field, slipping tackle after tackle before the ruck was created.

As the ball came back Williams picked it from the base of the ruck, on the run, and slipped it to flanker Liam Messam who again broke another tackle and raced 20m for the side's second try. Cruden's second conversion took the side to a 17-6 lead.

The Crusaders were lucky after getting into the Chiefs' 22m area after the re-start and being hit by the home defence which resulted in loose ball being uncontrolled as it was flicked behind the Crusaders players. The Chiefs were through onto the ball carrying play up to the Crusaders' line, however wing Tim Nanai-Williams was ruled to have been in front of the kicked.

Play returned back to halfway where the infringement occurred and from the resulting lineout, the Crusaders showed their class in lifting the tempo and finding a gap which second five-eighths Ryan Crotty was able to race through to leave the score at 17-11 at half-time.