What an amazing game. For the first time this season, a Super Rugby game outside of Fijian soil had a stadium that looked close to having a sell-out crowd. Rugby fans are indeed well and truly in existent, they just simply need to get the incentive to watch at the stadium. With the top two Kiwi teams up for a rematch, this was all the incentive needed. After a half-time lead of 12-7, the game opened up with the tries flooding in; though the Chiefs held on and won by 34-24 in a massive effort up front.
After such an important performance, let's see how each Chiefs player went for their side by doing the usual and reading through them from jersey number 1 through to 23.
CHIEFS PLAYER RATINGS
Chiefs Co-Captain, Brad Weber, lead from the front with 7 tackles, a high number for a 75kg halfback. Photo: Max Sharp.
Loosehead Prop - Aidan Ross (8/10)
In just 49 minutes, the number 1 managed 13/13 tackles in a gutsy effort up front that will have caught the attention of the All Blacks selectors in the crowd. Nailed every scrum he packed down for and kept his discipline, not giving away any penalties. A test re-call may be highly likely.
Hooker - Samisoni Taukei'aho (8/10)
While the Crusaders' 66% possession rate restricted him to just 4 carries, he charged forward to beat 2 defenders and run 14 metres. Is well and truly looking the finished product at 25 years old. Do we get to see him in the All Black number 2 jersey?
Tighthead Prop - George Dyer (8/10)
Although the Chiefs' scrum has come under scrutiny throughout the season, Dyer provided his best Super Rugby performance up front. Only touched the ball once, but was strong on defence for 12/13 tackles.
Lock 4 - Brodie Retallick (7/10)
Although viewers are unlikely to forget his missed tackle on Tamaiti Williams, Retallick made up for the incident with 22 metres off 7 carries, as well as his team's first try in the 44th minute. Made 13 total tackles.
Lock 5 - Tupou Vaa'i (6/10)
Got limited attacking opportunities for 2 metres off 2 carries and 2 passes, but made a nice offload at one stage. Was taken off at the right time after conceding a few penalties, while getting through a solid effort of 11/11 tackles.
Blindside Flanker - Samipeni Finau (6/10)
Though Finau was caught out for ill-discipline on a few occasions, he was still able to notch up 12/15 tackles and 1 turnover on defence. Wasn't to be attack-wise, but squeezed out 7 metres of go-forward in his 2 carries.
Openside Flanker - Sam Cane (8/10)
Captain Cane needn’t worry about losing the All Black captaincy, as per mainstream media discussions. He had a strong 80 minutes for 11 metres, 1 defender beaten, 5 carries, 1 pass, 14/15 tackles and 1 turnover. Ian Foster will be impressed by his main man.
Number 8 - Luke Jacobson (5/10)
While his defensive performance of 17/19 tackles will get some pundits talking, he'll have done his World Cup ambitions a disservice with two unnecessary penalties, one of which lead to a yellow card and penalty try. Restricted to 6 metres in his 5 carries.
Halfback - Brad Weber (9/10)
Captain Weber stood up for 7/7 tackles and truly put his body on the line for the cause. Made excellent passes and had a decent kicking game, while organising his forward pack efficiently. Definitely the standout halfback for Round 10 for these efforts.
First Five - Damian McKenzie (5/10)
"DMac" as he's known, truly had a game of two halves. Made several poor kicks in the first half, including a missed penalty. His lone missed tackle was a howler on Fainga'anuku too. McKenzie then burst to the life in the second half for 44 metres, 3 defenders beaten, 1 clean break, 8 carries, 2 offloads and 16 passes; including a try assist to Stevenson.
Left Wing - Etene Nanai-Seturo (7/10)
Opportunities were limited for the number 11, though his 4 carries were effective for 36 metres, 3 defenders beaten and 1 clean break; though Havili and Mo'unga intervened in his talent show. Has improved as a defender this season and finished his 63 minutes with 8 tackles.
Second Five - Rameka Poihipi (6/10)
Constricted to 15 metres off 5 carries, Poihipi instead found himself helping out in a few breakdowns and can be commended for doing so. Had a 100% tackle rate for 6/6, though he may need to switch Super Rugby teams next season, to ensure the same game time levels.
Centre - Daniel Rona (5/10)
Midfield was the one area of the game where the Crusaders had the upper hand. Rona's positioning wasn't quite on par, though he managed 7/8 tackles. Got limited to 4 metres off just a single carry, so will hope for more next week.
Right Wing - Emoni Narawa (10/10)
This man is the true breakout star for the Chiefs in 2023, rather than Stevenson. He may be a winger, but Emoni Narawa's defensive effort of 7/8 tackles was massive out wide, while his kicking game was world-class. Made a game-high 90 metres, while beating 1 defender and running 2 clean breaks off just 6 carries. Put him in the All Blacks squad.
Fullback - Shaun Stevenson (7/10)
Was MIA for much of the first-half, with Narawa often using the boot instead. Burst to life in the second half when moving to left wing, running for 65 metres, beating 3 defenders and making 2 clean breaks off 8 carries. Scored a try, but may be under the microscope for missing his lone tackle attempt.
Reserve Hooker - Tyrone Thompson (7/10)
Not a bad cameo for the Hawke's Bay hooker at all. In just 12 minutes, Thompson scored the winning try, ran 7 metres off 2 carries, made 1 pass and nailed 2/3 tackles. Some real proof of time not necessarily limiting a player's impact.
Reserve Loosehead Prop - Ollie Norris (8/10)
Went to work at the breakdown straight away and kept the Crusaders' front-foot ball at bay, before capitalising on Oli Jager's return from injury, to demolish the scrum. Worked hard on defence for 8/8 tackles in 31 minutes.
Reserve Tighthead Prop - John Ryan (No rating)
While the Chiefs' scrum was immense with just minutes left, we didn't see enough of the 34-year-old in open play so he won't be rated.
Reserve Lock - Naitoa Ah Kuoi (6/10)
It was disappointing not to see Josh Lord play, especially with Ah Kuoi coming on with 12 minutes to play. Worked well in the lineout and managed 3/3 tackles though, so nothing to make a huge fuss over.
Reserve Loose Forward - Pita Gus Sowakula (No rating)
Played for 26 minutes and made just 3 tackles in this time, so didn't do enough to get a rating.
Reserve Halfback - Cortez Ratima (6/10)
Wow. In a big game, Clayton McMillan trusted in his young replacement 9 to come on and replace the Co-Captain. Ratima did well when passing off the breakdown too, this move will give him plenty to learn from should he be needed in the knockout stages of the competition.
Reserve First Five - Bryn Gatland (5/10)
Wasn't his best effort, he's a valuable starter rather than an impact player. Gatland's 5 passes were just the possession needed by teammates, rather than world-class efforts, though he managed 5 metres off 2 carries. Will be disappointed with a kick out on the full.
Reserve Midfielder - Lalomilo Lalomilo (6/10)
Lalomilo, a member of the wider training squad, made his debut with 9 minutes to go, with Alex Nankivell out with a concussion. Both of his plays were nice, these were 3 metres off his single carry and 1/1 tackle.