The Crusaders produced a superior second-half display to down the Blues 25-8 in Auckland on Friday. JON CARDINELLI reports.
The Crusaders came into this clash on the back of a bad loss to the Chiefs. While they were matched by the Blues in the early stages, they showed their class in the period before and after half-time.
David Havili kicked two penalties in the first half as the Crusaders looked to take control on the scoreboard. The visitors began to assert themselves early in the second stanza, and Richie Mo’unga’s try under the posts boosted their lead to 10 points.
The Crusaders’ dominance at the set-pieces proved telling in the latter stages. The visitors worked their way upfield after winning a series of penalties and turnovers. Jack Goodhue’s try in the 57th minute put the Crusaders firmly in charge.
The reigning champions pushed for the bonus-point try thereafter. A series of handling errors and breakdown offences curbed their momentum, though, and they finished the game with just the four log points.
Blues – Try: Patrick Tuipulotu. Penalty: Stephen Perofeta.
Crusaders – Tries: George Bridge, Richie Mo’unga, Jack Goodhue. Conversions: David Havili (2). Penalties: Havili (2).
Blues – 15 Matt Duffie, 14 Jordan Hyland, 13 Joe Marchant, 12 TJ Faiane, 11 Mark Telea, 10 Stephen Perofeta, 9 Jonathan Ruru, 8 Hoskins Sotutu, 7 Blake Gibson, 6 Dalton Papali’i, 5 Josh Goodhue, 4 Patrick Tuipulotu (c), 3 Ofa Tuungafasi, 2 James Parsons, 1 Karl Tu’inukuafe.
Subs: 16 Kurt Eklund, 17 Ezekiel Lindenmuth, 18 Sione Mafileo, 19 Tom Robinson, 20 Tony Lamborn, 21 Sam Nock, 22 Harry Plummer, 23 Emoni Narawa.
Crusaders – 15 David Havili, 14 Sevu Reece, 13 Braydon Ennor, 12 Jack Goodhue, 11 George Bridge, 10 Richie Mo’unga, 9 Bryn Hall, 8 Tom Sanders, 7 Tom Christie, 6 Cullen Grace, 5 Mitchell Dunshea, 4 Scott Barrett (c), 3 Oliver Jager, 2 Codie Taylor, 1 Joe Moody.
Subs: 16 Andrew Makalio, 17 George Bower, 18 Michael Alaalatoa, 19 Luke Romano, 20 Sione Havili, 21 Mitchell Drummond, 22 Brett Cameron, 23 Will Jordan.
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Photo: Fiona Goodall/Getty Images