The Crusaders have come out on top with a 45-23 win over the Chiefs at AMI Stadium in Christchurch tonight.
FULLTIME - CRUSADERS 45 CHIEFS 23
The Chiefs tried their best to work it out of their own half, but the Crusaders were too clinical with George Bridge and Manasa Mataele scoring two late tries to seal the fate of the Chiefs. Down to 14 men the Chiefs just couldn't bounce back and the defending champs the Crusaders get their Super Rugby season off to a winning start.
79 mins: CRUSADERS 45 CHIEFS 23
TRY! Manasa Mataele pounces on a poor pass and cements the Crusaders the win. Mitchell Hunt misses his shot at goal.
74 mins: CRUSADERS 40 CHIEFS 23
TRY! George Bridge plucks it out of the air, a poor pass from the Chiefs' first-five Damian McKenzie and Bridge shows exceptional hands to score for the Crusaders.
Richie Mo'unga lands the conversion straight between the uprights.
71 mins: CRUSADERS 33 CHIEFS 23
PENALTY TRY! Chiefs flanker Lachlan Boshier has been sent to the bin for a dangerous tackle on Ryan Crotty who went low and was dragged into touch. A controversial call from the officials with the Crusaders leading the Chiefs 33-23.
66 mins: CRUSADERS 26 CHIEFS 23
THREE! Damian McKenzie lands a massive kick from 48m out and the Chiefs now trail 23-26 with 13 minutes left in the match.
62 mins: CRUSADERS 26 CHIEFS 20
TRY! Jack Goodhue finds himself in space and has the Chiefs defence scrambling. And it is the Crusaders' captain Sam Whitelock who gives his side the lead crashing over from close range to score. He had some work to do as he broke out of the tackle of two Chiefs defenders.
Richie Mo'unga slots the conversion from out wide and the Crusaders retake the lead.
59 mins: CRUSADERS 19 CHIEFS 20
PENALTY! Another big moment in the game as Lachlan Boshier earns the Chiefs a penalty just as the Crusaders looked hot on attack. The Crusaders were penalised for not releasing the ball in the ruck.
56 mins: CRUSADERS 19 CHIEFS 20
THREE! Damian McKenzie gives the Chiefs the lead for the first time in the match with a successful penalty kick at goal. Charlie Ngatai doesn't look good as he limps off the field, appears he has picked up an ankle injury after an awkward tackle. He is replaced by Sean Wainui.
51 mins: CRUSADERS 19 CHIEFS 17
PENALTY! A huge moment in the match and the Crusaders have pushed the Chiefs back off their own scrum feed and earned themselves a much needed penalty.
50 mins: CRUSADERS 19 CHIEFS 17
SCRUM! The momentum has shifted in the Chiefs' favour, they have been relentless on attack and now have a scrum five metres out from the try-line.
47 mins: CRUSADERS 19 CHIEFS 17
Crusaders lock Luke Romano has been replaced by Scott Barrett.
44 mins: CRUSADERS 19 CHIEFS 17
A long passage of play and neither side is willing to kick it. Michael Alaalatoa returns to the field and the Crusaders are back to 15 men. A little knock on from the Crusaders and the Chiefs now have an attacking scrum from 40 metres out.
40 mins: CRUSADERS 19 CHIEFS 17
And we are back underway! Richie Mo'unga kicks off deep to the Chiefs.
HALFTIME - CRUSADERS 19 CHIEFS 17
40 mins: CRUSADERS 19 CHIEFS 17
TRY! The Chiefs strike right on the halftime buzzer! Damian McKenzie delivers another pin-point pass, this time it's a back door ball to Chiefs winger Solomon Alaimalo who cracks the Crusaders' defence with his power and speed. He brings it around closer to the goal posts to make it an easier conversion for McKenzie.
McKenzie makes no mistake with the conversion, the Chiefs trail 17-19 at the break.
35 mins: CRUSADERS 19 CHIEFS 10
YELLOW CARD! Crusaders' prop Michael Alaalatoa has been sent to the bin after a swinging arm tackle that makes contact with the Chiefs' first-five Damian McKenzie's head. The Crusaders are down to 14 men with Richie Mo'unga returninh to the field after his stint in the bin.
33 mins: CRUSADERS 19 CHIEFS 10
TRY! Damian McKenzie throws a perfect short ball to his co-captain Sam Cane on halfway and he finds himself in space. He looks to pass from 20m out but he has opted to go himself and throws a dummy. The Crusaders players fall for it and he is tackled just outside the try-line, but he close enough to ground it over the white line. A superb effort from Sam Cane showing some wheels!
Damian McKenzie lands the kick at goal and they trail 10-19 against the Crusaders.
30 mins: CRUSADERS 19 CHIEFS 3
TRY! The Crusaders have been relentless on attack. They have an overlap out to the right even with one man in the bin. And it is Jordan Taufua who walks over to score his side's third try.
The conversion is good by David Havili.
26 mins: CRUSADERS 12 CHIEFS 3
NO GOOD! David Havili steps up to take over the kicking duties with Richie Mo'unga still in the bin. The Chiefs are penalised for taking out a Crusaders player off the ball. Havili shanks it! The ball was falling off the tee as he attempted to kick it at goal
20 mins: CRUSADERS 12 CHIEFS 3
YELLOW CARD! Charlie Ngatai makes a great break at halfway he steps through several tackles, but he is tackled just five metres short of the try-line. Richie Mo'unga is sent to the bin for playing the ball on the ground.
13 mins: CRUSADERS 12 CHIEFS 0
TRY! Oh no! A poor pass from Damian McKenzie at halfway leads to a runaway try for his opposite Richie Mo'unga. McKenzie's pass hits the ground and Ryan Crotty gets a boot to it, Mo'unga has the speed to get to the bouncing ball just before the try-line and he dives over close to the posts for the Crusaders' second try.
Mo'unga converts his try from easy range.
5 mins: CRUSADERS 5 CHIEFS 0
TRY! Matt Todd powers his way over from close range to score for the Crusaders. It was Jack Goodhue who made the initial break but it is Todd who finishes it off for the Crusaders.
Richie Mo'unga attempt at goal hits the uprights - the Crusaders lead 5-0.
1 min: CRUSADERS 0 CHIEFS 0
What a start! Off a line-out set play the Chiefs miss out on scoring a five pointer. Damian McKenzie finds himself in some space before throwing a pin-point pass to Anton Lienert-Brown who powers his way deep inside the Crusaders' 22.
The Chiefs mess up an opportunity to score, knocking the ball on just outside of the try-line.
And we are underway! Damian McKenzie gets things started kicking deep to the Crusaders.
Defending champs the Crusaders suffered losses in their pre-season matches against the Hurricanes and Highlanders, but weren't at full strength with a few of their All Blacks players rested in the first game.
The Chiefs lost to the Blues a fortnight ago in their pre-season clash but defeated the Brumbies in their last warm-up match last week in Australia.
An interesting match-up tonight will be between the two No. 10s as Richie Mo'unga comes up against Damian McKenzie who normally plays at fullback for the Chiefs.
Last time these two sides met the Crusaders were victors 27-13 in last year's Super Rugby semi-final in Christchurch.
CRUSADERS: 1 Wyatt Crockett, 2 Codie Taylor, 3 Michael Alaalatoa, 4 Luke Romano, 5 Sam Whitelock (c), 6 Peter Samu, 7 Matt Todd, 8 Jordan Taufua, 9 Bryn Hall, 10 Richie Mo'unga, 11 George Bridge, 12 Ryan Crotty, 13 Jack Goodhue, 14 Seta Tamanivalu, 15 David Havili.
RESERVES: 16 Ben Funnell, 17 Chris King, 18 Oliver Jager, 19 Scott Barrett, 20 Billy Harmon, 21 Mitchell Drummond, 22 Mitchell Hunt, 23 Manasa Mataele.
CHIEFS: 1 Aidan Ross, 2 Nathan Harris, 3 Nepo Laulala, 4 Brodie Retallick, 5 Dominic Bird, 6 Mitchell Brown, 7 Sam Cane (co-captain), 8 Taleni Seu, 9 Brad Weber, 10 Damian McKenzie, 11 Solomon Alaimalo, 12 Johnny Faauli, 13 Anton Lienert-Brown, 14 Shaun Stevenson, 15 Charlie Ngatai (co-captain).
RESERVES: 16 Liam Polwart, 17 Atunaisa Moli, 18 Angus Ta'avao, 19 Liam Messam, 20 Lachlan Boshier, 21 Te Toiroa Tahuiriorangi, 22 Marty McKenzie, 23 Sean Wainui.
59 mins: CRUSADERS 19 CHIEFS 20