Flyhalf Colin Slade kicked six goals, taking advantage of a one-sided penalty count, to boost the Crusaders to an 18-17 win over the Chiefs.
Slade succeeded with six of eight attempts, landing three in each half and twice hitting the uprights, to improve his record in the Crusaders' last two matches to 14 goals from 18 attempts.
He helped the Christchurch-based Crusaders outscore the Chiefs 9-0 in the second half, after they had trailed 17-9 at halftime, and post their third straight win after back-to-back victories in South Africa.
Slade's opposite, Gareth Anscombe, kicked four from five for the Chiefs before missing a long-range attempt in the 82nd minute which could have won the match.
Fullback Tom Marshall scored a try against his former teammates – the only try of a match highlighted by vigorously physical defence – to give the Chiefs a 17-9 half-time lead after they had trailed 9-3 in the 15th minute.
Slade kicked three from three to give the Crusaders an early lead before Anscombe replied with four from four to put the Chiefs ahead for the first time, at 12-9, in the 37th minute.
Marshall beat three defenders, including All Blacks fullback Israel Dagg, two minutes later for a try that created the first real separation between the teams. But Slade cut the lead to five points with his fourth penalty in the 50th minute, hit the posts with his sixth and seventh attempts, then added penalties in the 67th and 70th minutes to give his team its final one-point margin.
The Crusaders had five kickable penalties in the second half while the Chiefs had only one and that came two minutes after the fulltime siren. The attempt, from 54 meters, was beyond Anscombe's range and the Crusaders held on to their fifth win from eight games, moving up to fifth place and within two points of the Chiefs in the New Zealand conference.
"I was proud of the way we fought back and got the momentum back our way," said Ryan Crotty, who finished as Crusaders captain after Kieran Read was forced from the field with an injury in the 30th minute. "We had it early but they really had it towards the back end of that first half. But we really ground our way back. It was one of the Crusaders games of old, we really dug deep and clawed our way back into it."
The Chiefs were possibly the better team in a rain-drenched match but they had a costly tendency to kick away the cream of their possession. They were also unable to stem a flow of penalties which favored the Crusaders at the start of both halves.
"It was disappointing. We did enough to win that game and also did enough to lose it," Chiefs captain Liam Messam said. "We can take lessons from this and if we do we will still be a champion side." – Sapa-AP