Chiefs Super Rugby Pacific unbeaten streak includes Crusaders ‘twice’

Chiefs Super Rugby Pacific unbeaten streak includes Crusaders 'twice'

Nine wins from nine fixtures have the Chiefs Super Rugby Pacific season on target for a home playoff match, including two victories against the Crusaders.

This 34-24 win continues the Hamilton side’s dominance of the Southern Hemisphere competition. This home match was another stern challenge, however, the hosts held the Crusaders back, scoring a marvelous try to Brodie Retallick.

One critical stage of the match was when a Penalty Try resulted in flanker Luke Jacobsen being yellow carded. Surviving that ten-minute period was a key to then scoring twice late in the match.

The game began with the visitors crossing the line. And if two tries were not called back by the TMO, a large lead could have upset the winning streak. Yet the Chiefs are all too familiar with home-and-away wins against the perennial champions. Beating their rivals now is good, though by not getting too ahead of themselves, the table-toppers know that the most critical wins are in the knockout stages of the season.

Wins are confidence boosters, and with extremely high confidence, the Chiefs now can balance non-negotiable All Blacks player’s stand-down games that can often limit the leading team’s consistency. Nine consecutive wins have built-in positive habits, even while the franchise respects that a win in April is ‘less vital’ than consecutive wins in May and June.

Chiefs Super Rugby Pacific unbeaten streak includes Crusaders ‘twice’

Twin victories also send a message to opponents of the Chiefs Super Rugby Pacific season. To those who are still yet to face the Waikato side, they must combat a form team. Well drilled, coached, and ready to execute set plays and defensive systems. Even while the Highlanders and Reds are not within striking distance of a home playoff place, the Hurricanes and Brumbies are a threat to the Chiefs’ position.

Favourites for the majority of fixtures ahead, the Hurricanes could visit FMG Waikato Stadium and put a dent in that confidence. As could the Brumbies, the leading Australian conference team. And after the defeat to the ‘Canes on Friday, the ACT Brumbies might want to end the regular season with a bang.

Until then, Clayton McMillan will drive his men toward improving each week. He and captain Sam Cane were pleased with the outcome, although he’d have preferred a more assured start to the match. “We got a couple of ‘get out of jail cards’ with those denied Crusaders tries in the first half,” said McMillan in a postgame interview on SkySport. And Scott Robertson would have regrets that his side couldn’t take advantage of those missed opportunities.

Watching the highlights may only illustrate the intensity of the game. The 34-24 scoreline denies the tension building across the third quarter, as the game was in the balance. So it was not an easy win. Yet all nine of their 2023 victories are pointing out that the Chiefs are closer to their objective. By defeating the Crusades a second time, they can look towards any future encounter, with their heads on the big prize.

Chiefs 34 – Tries: Brodie Retallick, Shaun Stevenson, Tyrone Thompson; Conversions: Damian McKenzie 2; Penalties: McKenzie 5

Crusaders 24 – Tries: Tamaiti Williams, penalty try, Fergus Burke; Cons: Richie Mo’unga 2; Pen: Mo’unga


“Main image courtesy of Gallagher Chiefs facebook page