The Crusaders put in a commanding showing to overcome the Blues in their derby clash on Saturday, winning 23-3 in Christchurch.
The Crusaders put in a commanding performance to defeat the Blues in Saturday's Super Rugby derby clash, winning 23-3 at a wet AMI Stadium.
Victory leaves the outfit from Christchurch six points off the Chiefs, who they face next Friday.
The Blues meanwhile find themselves falling to third position in the New Zealand conference.
The hosts were struck by a blow before kick-off when Corey Flynn pulled out with a hamstring injury, which meant Ben Funnell got a start.
Conditions were not favourable to hookers – and flamboyant rugby for that matter – but the game made up for that in intensity in an absorbing 80.
While the scoreline remained deadlocked until 23 minutes, it was not lacking in entertainment value as Luke Romano and Rene Ranger ran well.
The Crusaders did have an opportunity to open matters though on ten minutes but full-back Tom Taylor, again preferred to All Black Israel Dagg, was wayward in the rain. He did make amends though for that aforementioned effort after veteran Ali Williams had offended via side entry at ruck time.
Todd Blackadder's men would not have to wait long for their next points too as Chris Noakes was charged down in his own 22 by Ryan Crotty, who went over. Taylor's extras further extended the lead to ten points as the Blues suddenly found themselves adrift.
Noakes cut that lead down to seven soon after following a no-arms tackle from Romano.
In truth that 10-3 scoreline would have been a fair reflection of how the first-half played out at AMI Stadium, but the opening 40 minutes ended with drama when Zac Guildford's pass to Romano on the left wing was deliberately slapped down by Culum Retallick. That handed Taylor three points and the offending Blues second-row a ten minute spell in the sin-bin.
The Crusaders returned for the second-half in good form and were in for their second try on 48 minutes when Owen Franks barged over on the back of a maul. Taylor's conversion and then a further penalty seven minutes later extended matters to 23-3 in Christchurch.
And that was how things stayed until the final whistle as, despite Frank Halai going close on the right wing, the Crusaders kept their try-line uncrossed in an authoritative performance.
Tries: Crotty, Franks
Con: Taylor 2
Pen: Taylor 3
Crusaders: 15 Tom Taylor, 14 Tom Marshall, 13 Robbie Fruean, 12 Ryan Crotty, 11 Zac Guildford, 10 Dan Carter, 9 Andy Ellis, 8 Kieran Read (c), 7 Matt Todd, 6 George Whitelock, 5 Sam Whitelock, 4 Luke Romano, 3 Owen Franks, 2 Ben Funnell, 1 Wyatt Crockett.
Replacements: 16 Codie Taylor, 17 Joe Moody, 18 Dominic Bird, 19 Luke Whitelock, 20 Willi Heinz, 21 Adam Whitelock, 22 Israel Dagg.
Blues: 15 Charles Piutau, 14 Frank Halai, 13 Rene Ranger, 12 Jackson Willison, 11 George Moala, 10 Chris Noakes, 9 Piri Weepu, 8 Peter Saili, 7 Luke Braid, 6 Steven Luatua, 5 Ali Williams (c), 4 Culum Retallick, 3 Angus Ta'avao, 2 Keven Mealamu, 1 Tim Perry.
Replacements: 16 Quentin MacDonald, 17 Sam Prattley, 18 Anthony Boric, 19 Brendon O'Connor, 20 Jamison Gibson-Park, 21 Baden Kerr, 22 Francis Saili.
Referee: Glen Jackson (New Zealand)
Assistant referees: Nick Briant (New Zealand), Kane McBride (New Zealand)
Television match official: Keith Brown (New Zealand)