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Chiefs beat Crusaders to book final spot

The Chiefs secured a home Super Rugby final as uncharacteristic errors from New Zealand fly-half Dan Carter saw the Crusaders beaten in a Waikato Stadium thriller.

Carter kicked his side into a 9-3 half-time lead but had chances to extend it still further.

And after the Chiefs took the lead through tries from Lelia Masaga and Aaron Cruden, a late drop-goal miss and then a knock-on by Carter meant the visitors were unable to come back and Israel Dagg's superb try was in vain.

Carter kicked the Crusaders in front in the sixth minute after the Chiefs were penalised at the breakdown, and offside offences by both teams allowed him and opposite number Cruden to trade penalties to take the score to 6-3.

An awful error from Masaga, dropping a pass off the back of a scrum, led indirectly to a third Crusaders penalty and Carter slotted the three points to make it 9-3. But he missed a difficult fourth shot as well as a drop-goal just before half-time as his side were unable to add to their cushion after having the better half.

Carter had another chance early in the second period, with play brought back after Kieran Read could not quite make the most of an advantage, but he struck his penalty against a post. And Cruden quickly narrowed the gap back to three points with a 40-metre kick after Matt Todd was caught offside at a ruck.

That sparked a turnaround as two tries in the next 10 minutes took the Chiefs 20-9 ahead.

First Masaga made up for his first-half error by storming past George Whitelock and Andrew Ellis to score, then Cruden intercepted Ryan Crotty's rash pass, clung on and broke away to score from 40 metres. The fly-half converted both tries.

New Zealand full-back Dagg hit back with a fine solo try late in the game, sidestepping past two players and needing confirmation from the television match official that he had just stayed in bounds. Carter added the touchline conversion.

The momentum looked to have turned when Cruden missed a penalty and Carter slotted three points to cut the gap to just one with five minutes remaining.

But once again he was off target with a drop-goal attempt late in the half and he lost the ball in contact right on the hooter, allowing the Chiefs to clear to touch and hold on for a place in the final against the Bulls or Brumbies.

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