March 09, 2019

Gallagher Chiefs unable to challenge BNZ Crusaders

The Gallagher Chiefs were unable to challenge defending Investec Super Rugby Champions the BNZ Crusaders at Christchurch Stadium suffering a 57-28 defeat.

In what was their fourth straight loss to start the season, the Gallagher Chiefs were simply no match for the organised attacking unit of the BNZ Crusaders, who ran in nine tries over the course of a dominant 80 minutes.

An exciting start to the match saw chances at both ends, but the home side struck first with a try to wing Braydon Ennor after a patient build up and superb offload in the tackle from centre Jack Goodhue.

First five Richie Mo'unga was successful with the conversion from out wide to give the BNZ Crusaders an early 7-0 lead.

Just two minutes later they were in again when wing Sevu Reece intercepted a Damian McKenzie pass 20 metres out from the line and raced away to score a try on his Super Rugby debut.

There was almost an instant reply from the Gallagher Chiefs as outside backs Etene Nanai-Seturo and Solomon Alaimalo combined nicely down the left wing but the final pass was thrown forward.

With the good field position, the Gallagher Chiefs kept the pressure on the BNZ Crusaders defence, spending several minutes on attack inside the opposition 22. After turning down back-to-back shots at goal they were finally rewarded when Number 8 Taleni Seu made a strong burst from the back of a scrum to score.

McKenzie added the extras to bring the Gallagher Chiefs back within five points at the end of the opening quarter.

However, it wasn't long before the BNZ Crusaders flexed their muscles again, as a clinical set piece move from a scrum on halfway was finished off by fullback Will Jordan.

The relentless attack continued as the Gallagher Chiefs were unable to get their hands on the ball, with the pressure eventually ending in a fourth try as hooker Andrew Makalio crashed over the line off a short pass from halfback Ereatara Enari.

The two quick tries suddenly had the Gallagher Chiefs staring at a 19-point deficit after 30 minutes of play.

Things were just not going the Gallagher Chiefs way as a nice counter attack from near their own line was quickly turned over by the BNZ Crusaders, and they pounced with some brilliant ball handing and hard running, finished off by Will Jordan for his second try of the evening.

That was to be the final points of the half with the BNZ Crusaders going into the break with a comprehensive 26-point lead.

It took just three minutes into the second half for the home side to add further points as, off the back of a lineout drive, they worked their way towards the Gallagher Chiefs line before prop Michael Alaalatoa found a gap and dotted down.

Following the Alaalatoa try came one of the Gallagher Chiefs best periods of the match as they hammered away at the BNZ Crusaders defence with rookie winger Etene Nanai-Seturo crossing for his fourth try of the season.

Coach Colin Cooper then took to the bench to make a range of substitutions which seemed to steady his side, as the rest of the third quarter was a very even contest. But at the 60-minute mark, yet another clinical BNZ Crusaders attack ended in points as All Black hooker Codie Taylor broke clear to score thanks to a brilliant pass from David Havili.

The eighth BNZ Crusaders try came soon after as they moved the ball swiftly from their own 22 with Taylor putting Sevu Reece into space and, despite a fine cover tackle from Damian McKenzie, replacement halfback Bryn Hall was on hand to take the final pass as the red and blacks went past the half century mark.

A lineout drive off the back of a great touch finding kick from David Havili then saw Taylor go over for his second try to cap an impressive performance off the bench.

With the match out of reach the Gallagher Chiefs threw caution to the wind which resulted in two late tries to give some respectability to the scoreline. Debutant Jack Debreczeni and loose forward Mitchell Brown scored from two equally impressive long-range attacks as the Gallagher Chiefs showed good character to have the better of the final 10 minutes.

Gallagher Chiefs 28 (Taleni Seu, Etene Nanai-Seturo, Jack Debreczeni, Mitchell Brown tries; Damian McKenzie 4 cons)
BNZ Crusaders 57 (Will Jordan 2, Codie Taylor 2, Braydon Ennor, Sevu Reece, Andrew Makalio, Michael Alaalatoa, Bryn Hall tries; Richie Mo'unga 5 cons, Brett Cameron con) HT: 7-33.

The Gallagher Chiefs return home to FMG Stadium Waikato for their next match, against the Hurricanes on Friday 15 March (kick off 7.35pm).

Gallagher Chiefs unable to challenge BNZ Crusaders