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Dan Carter missed two penalties and two drop goals as his Crusaders team were edged out by the Chiefs, who go through to Super Rugby final.
In an all-New Zealand semi-final, Crusaders looked to have the edge, especially when Carter kicked them into a 9-3 lead at the Waikato Stadium.
The defending champions, though, refused to lie down and fought their way in front with two tries in five second-half minutes.
Firstly, Lelia Masaga crossed the whitewash before Aaron Cruden, back-up fly-half to Carter in the All Black ranks, also touched down for a try to make it 20-9 to the Chiefs.
Another All Blacks international, Israel Dagg, hit back with a fine solo try for the Crusaders and they looked to have the momentum at that stage, especially when Carter slotted another three points with five minutes remaining.
But Carter missed a drop-goal attempt and the 31-year-old then knocked-on in the closing stages, with the Chiefs holding on for a 20-19 victory.
Having been heavily beaten by the Crusaders a few weeks ago, Chiefs coach Dave Rennie was delighted with their response, especially defensively.
Rennie said: “On the whole there was just some fantastic moments defensively – I’m just very proud of them. It was just a massive effort in the second half.”