Written by Max Sharp
Well reader, I'm glad to have started my side-page on Instagram named @waikatochiefsfans after that victory! The Chiefs and Crusaders went head-to-head as true heavyweights at Orangetheory Stadium in Christchurch and neither team wasted time getting on the scoreboard, players from each side had points within 15 minutes. After lagging behind for most of the game, the Chiefs' persistence against brick-wall defence worked. Let's have a read through who stood out in their 24-21 win.
Head to @waikatochiefsfans on Instagram for a bit of banter!
Logo Copyright: Gallagher Chiefs.
Chiefs Player Ratings
Loosehead Prop - Aidan Ross (7/10)
11 of the game's 16 scrums were off the Crusaders' feed and Ross played a core role in disrupting the Crusaders' scrum. Ross, the Chiefs' best prop, has never been flashy, but gave a solid 46-minute display, running 4 metres and beating a defender in his lone carry. 5 tackles and a turnover as well, he did the basics of his role to perfection.
Hooker - Samisoni Taukei'aho (8/10)
His reputation remains on the rise, he ran 30 metres and beat a defender in 7 carries, while his 9 tackles were the most of the Chiefs' front row. The players tackling Taukei'aho will have sore bodies, this guy is now the All Blacks' undisputed second-choice hooker.
Tighthead Prop - Angus Ta'avao (6/10)
The late-bloomer ran out with not too much energy on his 50th game, he wasn't very involved outside the scrum. An acceptable job though, 9 metres from 4 carries, plus 3 passes and 7 tackles. He's mobile and needs to use that skill more.
Lock 4 - Tupou Vaa'i (7/10)
Vaa'i, the first All Black born in the 21st century, went to work here. His 2 turnovers in the first half were very useful, his presence was the most clear at lineout time. Not the most effective attack, but his 5 passes and 2 offloads opened things up. Also made 9 tackles.
Lock 5 - Brodie Retallick (7/10)
Returning to the Chiefs seems to be having positive results for his form. Solid defence with 10 tackles and 2 turnovers, whilst the Crusaders found him hard to tackle, his 12 carries lead to 31 metres. Not the player he once was, but his experience balances the team.
Blindside Flanker - Kaylum Boshier (7/10)
Playing in the jersey once often worn by his brother, Kaylum Boshier ran 30 metres and beat a defender from his mere 2 carries, supplementing those numbers with 6 passes and 9 tackles. Was also good as a lineout jumper, replaced by Florence after 62 minutes.
Openside Flanker - Sam Cane (6/10)
Cane almost immediately goes to ground when carrying, this needs to stop. Just 4 metres from 9 carries. He made up for poor attack with 13 passes, 3 offloads and excellent defence, making 10 tackles (joint-most in the team) and 2 turnovers. A rather mixed game for him.
Number 8 - Pita Gus Sowakula (9/10)
If Fiji don't call up Sowakula in 2022, Vern Cotter needs to get the sack. Sowakula is continuing a rich run of form, his 60 metres and 4 defenders beaten came from an incredible 16 carries. Defensively powerful too, 8 carries and 2 turnovers. A living Terminator.
Halfback - Xavier Roe (6/10)
Not the biggest player, but wasn't intimidated by the pressure of the Crusaders' pack. The 5'10 general played respectably, but stuck to his passing game, running just 3 metres from 2 carries. The Chiefs should continue to give Roe more game time, he's getting better.
First-Five - Bryn Gatland (10/10)
Fired up after the criticism from last week, Gatland put the Crusaders to the sword, outplaying Mo'unga. His 8 carries lead to 42 metres, a clean break and defender beaten, while his 39 passes were near Roe's 43. Incredible defence (for a First-Five) with 6 tackles and 3 turnovers, 9 points to go with it too. Is he still eligible for Wales?
Left Wing - Alex Nankivell (7/10)
Etene Nanai-Seturo was ruled out of the game after initially being named to start, but Nankivell didn't look out of place at wing. Strong attack, with 47 metres and 3 defenders beaten off 12 carries, 5 very good tackles. Try him there again.
Second-Five - Quinn Tupaea (6/10)
Suggesting he hasn't found form this year is utterly ridiculous of his critics. Though not as effective as Havili, Tupaea ran 22 metres and beat 3 defenders off 11 carries, while adding 3 offloads to his 8 passes. 4 tackles and a turnover too, doesn't sound like he played badly to me and luckily I watched the game to make sure!
Centre - Anton Lienert-Brown (8/10)
Destructive as ever. Made the team's third-most metres with 64, beating a defender in his 9 carries as well. 6 solid passes and an offload to go with his 4 tackles. Lienert-Brown remains the glue holding that backline together.
Right Wing - Shaun Stevenson (9/10)
This was one of Stevenson's career-best performances, he showed supreme athleticism when scoring his 2 tries. A game-high 88 metres, 2 clean breaks and 6 defenders beaten were other results of his 9 carries, an excellent attacking display from the winger.
Fullback - Emoni Narawa (7/10)
He made a few bad kicks, a great offensive display made up for that though. 82 metres was the second-most of the game, while he also beat 2 defenders from his 10 carries. Got involved around the field as well, made 2 passes, an offload, 2 tackles and a turnover.
Reserve Hooker - Bradley Slater (No rating)
Slater only played for 20 minutes and didn't have to do any defending. Not enough involvement with the game to rate him.
Reserve Loosehead Prop - Ollie Norris (6/10)
Didn't make a lot of impact but when he was involved in the game it had positive results. Solid scrum, while he ran 10 metres off 6 carries and made 6 passes. Norris didn't have to do any defending so we, sadly, didn't get to see the best of him.
Reserve Tighthead Prop - George Dyer (6/10)
Well, the debutant only played for 14 minutes, but still had a good crack at the game. Scrum remained strong, while he made his 4 metres from 5 carries. Made a pass and 3 tackles, was good to see the big guy show his enthusiasm. Could get a full contract next year, he's still 22 years old.
Reserve Lock - Naitoa Ah Kuoi (No rating)
Same thing as Slater. Ah Kuoi played for 23 minutes but only ran 3 metres from 2 carries. Not enough involvement to be rated.
Reserve Loose Forward - Tom Florence (6/10)
He's a pretty underrated player, gave a determined effort towards the cause, running 11 metres and beating a defender in his 5 carries. Didn't shy away from using his hands, gained through 7s, to make 2 passes and an offload. Give Florence a full contract next year.
Reserve Halfback - Cortez Ratima (8/10)
Joined the game in the 48th minute as a replacement for Roe and showed class on debut, even made more passes (72) because of the one-sided second half possession stats. Effective carrying with 23 metres and 2 defenders beaten from 4 carries. One to watch.
Reserve Utility Back - Rivez Reihana (No rating)
Though Reihana is better at 10, he came on in the 60th minute for Narawa due to Gatland's commanding performance. Wasn't that involved, made 3 metres from 2 carries and made a single pass. Not enough to rate him on.
Reserve Utility Back - Rameka Poihipi (6/10)
Poihipi was one of two utilities on the Chiefs' bench and ended up playing left wing, while Nankivell moved to 13 when Lienert-Brown was subbed off. Poihipi made just a metre off 2 carries, but it resulted in the winning try and his first at Super Rugby level (the same weekend of his partner, Grace Steinmetz's Super Rugby debut). I'm happy for him!