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Crusaders top Chiefs to end losing streak


The defending Super Rugby Pacific champion Crusaders have ended their franchise-worst losing streak at five matches.


A double from wing Johnny McNicholl propelled the 14-time champions to a 37-26 win over the Chiefs at Christchurch's Apollo Projects Stadium in Round 6 on Friday night, lifting them off the bottom of the standings.


Chay Fihaki, Cullen Grace and George Bell also scored tries for the Crusaders, while Emoni Narawa, George Dyer, Anton Lienert-Brown and Cortez Ratima went over for the Chiefs, who never led in the match.


Fullback Fihaki won the race to a grubber-kick from Nigel Hotham in the sixth minute after the halfback made a break down the blindside from halfway. Hotham then delivered the last pass to put McNicholl in for his first, with the Crusaders leading 12-0 after just 14 minutes.


The Chiefs answered through wing Emoni Narawa after 17 minutes, finishing off a 4-on-1 out wide, but No 8 Cullen Grace restore the Crusaders' advantage soon after.


Johnny McNicholl Crusaders
Johnny McNicholl scored a try in each half as the Crusaders ended a five-match losing streak. PHOTO: SUPER RUGBY

Prop George Dyer scored in the 34th minute, making it a one possession game after Josh Jacomb made a clean line-break, but Riley Hohepa sent the Crusaders into halftime up 22-12.


The teams exchanged tries in the second half, with prop George Bell and McNicholl scoring for the Crusaders and All Blacks midfielder Anton Lienert-Brown and Cortez Ratima for the Chiefs, who only got as close as eight points.


The Crusaders have the bye in Round 7 before facing the NSW Waratahs in Sydney on April 12, while the Chiefs host Moana Pasifika at Hamilton's FMG Stadium Waikato next Saturday (kick-off 7.05pm)


Crusaders 37 (Johnny McNicholl 2, Chay Fihaki, Cullen Grace, George Bell tries; Riley Hohepa 2 con, pen, Reviz Reihana con, pen) Chiefs 26 (Emoni Narawa, George Dyer, Anton Lienert-Brown, Cortez Ratima tries; Josh Jacomb con, Josh Ioane 2 con). HT: 22-12

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