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Chiefs into Super Rugby final
Massam and Taumalolo score in semi success
The Chiefs booked their place in the Super Rugby final following a narrow 20-17 victory over the Crusaders at Waikato Stadium.
After ending the regular season as the highest-ranked New Zealand side, the Chiefs made home advantage count as they reached the final for a second time, where they will face either the Stormers or Sharks.
First half tries from flanker Liam Massam and prop Son Taumalolo put the Chiefs in charge but Ryan Crotty's try on the stroke of half time set up an intriguing second half.
Dan Carter's third and fourth penalties of the match levelled the scores, however Aaron Cruden edged the hosts back ahead with his second penalty and stoic defence saw Dave Rennie's men into the final.
The Chiefs will now play the winner of Saturday's second semi-final between South African duo Stormers and Sharks - in Cape Town if the Stormers win or at Hamilton if the Sharks prevail.
The signs were promising from the outset for the home team who looked a sharper, more unified, combination than in the previous game between the two sides three weeks ago.
Carter did not have the time or space to call the shots in his usual manner. He landed four penalty goals but missed a chance to tie the game up in the 75th minute with a miss from 45m.
Crusaders captain Richie McCaw was again outstanding in the number eight role but there was no doubt the loss of Luke Romano in the 14th minute hurt them badly.
Cruden opened the scoring with a second-minute penalty goal but after that was negated 12 minutes later by Carter, Cruden missed two chances, one of them from 55m.
Sonny Bill Williams was lethal on the line breaks during the first half and a handful in the second with powerful running.
One early quick transfer outside to Cruden saw a linking pass to allow half-back Tawera Kerr-Barlow up towards the line. The Chiefs pack then arrived en masse and it was Taumalolo who burrowed across for his ninth try of the season in his 50th Super Rugby game.
Carter pulled the Crusaders back to 10-6 with a 31st-minute penalty goal after Ben Tameifuna was ruled to have collapsed the scrum.
But the Chiefs moved ahead 17-6 after the restart as Williams put Messam through, allowing the flanker to break a tackle and race 20m for their second try, which Cruden converted.
Inside centre Crotty responded when he found a gap to leave the scores at 17-11 at half-time, but the Crusaders were unable to get through the Chiefs defence late in the second half despite their best efforts.
Carter pulled the margin back to three four minutes into the second half but the Crusaders then saw a rare error from their ace when a penalty kick rolled over the dead-ball line.
In resulting play back at halfway the Crusaders conceded a scrum penalty through prop Wyatt Crockett and Cruden goaled to take the score to 20-14.
Carter pulled three points back but could not level the match as the Chiefs held out to set up a final against the winners ofSaturday's game between the Stormers and the Sharks.
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|Friday 13th February|
|06:35||Crusaders vs Melbourne Rebels|
|Saturday 21st February|
|06:35||Highlanders vs Crusaders|
|Saturday 28th February|
|06:35||Chiefs vs Crusaders|
|Saturday 14th March|
|03:30||Crusaders vs Lions|
|Saturday 21st March|
|06:35||Crusaders vs Cheetahs|
|Saturday 28th March|
|17:10||Bulls vs Crusaders|
|Saturday 4th April|
|14:00||Sharks vs Crusaders|
|Saturday 11th April|
|08:35||Crusaders vs Highlanders|
|Friday 17th April|
|08:35||Crusaders vs Chiefs|
|Saturday 25th April|
|08:35||Crusaders vs Blues|
|Saturday 2nd May|
|08:35||Hurricanes vs Crusaders|
|Friday 8th May|
|08:35||Crusaders vs Reds|
Read the thoughts and opinions of Phil Edwards with skysports.com