Chiefs pull off wild upset in Suva

By Jamie Wall

The Chiefs have defeated the defending Super Rugby champion Crusaders 40-27 in an incredible game in Suva, Fiji. Spurred on by an heroic effort by captain Sam Cane and monumental performance by halfback Brad Weber, the Chiefs pulled off one of the great comebacks of all time.

The Crusaders were up 20-0 after as many minutes, before the Chiefs clicked into gear and went on a 40-7 scoring run.

Things were looking ominous for the Chiefs as Scott Barrett rumbled 50 metres to score the game’s first try. He was followed by Mitch Drummond and then hometown boy Sevu Reece, to take the Crusaders out to a lead that should’ve been enough to win the game then and there. 

But the last 10 minutes of the first half saw the Chiefs came roaring back, first Solomon Alaimalo scored off a sweeping counter-attack, then hooker Samisoni Taukei’aho crashed over. Jesse Parete then touched down to close the gap to only one point at halftime.

The Crusaders looked to have gotten their act together as they were the first team to score after halftime, when Brayden Ennor finished off a simple draw and pass after the Chiefs’ defence fell apart. However, that was the last time they’d add to the scoreboard.

First Weber finished off a break by Taukei’aho, then Shaun Stevenson burst through the middle off a Jack Debrezceni pass to score under the posts and give the Chiefs their first lead.

The last 10 minutes were a tense affair as the Crusaders looked to score a match winner of their own, but the final say went to Tumua Manu, who picked off a wayward 22 restart by Richie Mo’unga to score under the posts and seal a remarkable win.

In terms of the table, the result doesn’t actually affect things for the Crusaders too much. They are still way out in front on 53 points, 13 ahead of their nearest NZ Conference rivals the Hurricanes. The Chiefs move up into third, and keep their slim playoff hopes alive.

Chiefs 40 (S Alaimalo, S Taukei’aho, J Parete, B Weber, S Stevenson, T Manu tries; J Debrezceni 5 con)

Crusaders 27 (S Barrett, M Drummond, S Reece, B Ennor tries; R Mo’unga 2 con, pen)