Planet Rugby

Blues fightback stuns Crusaders

28th February 2014 08:18

Share:

Charlie Piutau in action for the Blues in Super Rugby

Comeback win: Blues

The Blues sealed a come-from-behind 35-24 victory over the Crusaders on Friday, sending the former champions to their second straight loss in 2014.

It was a breathtaking comeback from the hosts as with 30 minutes played the Blues were 3-17 down after Corey Flynn and Colin Slade had crossed.

But with attacking options all over the field, Sir John Kirwan's men put the Crusaders to the sword in the next fifteen minutes either side of half-time as Frank Halai, Tevital Li, George Moala and Jackson Willison scored to pick up the bonus point whilst also turning the match on its head.

29-17 was the scoreline with 33 minutes left in the game and it didn't look like a Crusaders comeback was on the cards as the Blues set up camp in the visiting 22, with Todd Blackadder looking on worryingly as his side looked a shadow of its former self against the Blues.

From the early sparring it had looked like the Crusaders had found form following their disappointing - some would say, self inflicted - defeat to the Chiefs. A try from hooker Flynn set them on their way on fifteen minutes as the returning Kieran Read set him on his way down the wing.

Tom Taylor, in for Tyler Bleyendaal, made it 0-7 before Blues fly-half Simon Hickey cut the gap to four points for less than a minute as the home side were penalised for an offence at the restart. Net result, Taylor sent over another three to leave things at 3-10 on 20 minutes.

The Crusaders were well on top at this point as the Blues' sluggish starts to games looked set to cost them again, which it did on 33 minutes when Slade went through five metres out off set-piece ball. However, there was more than a hint of obstruction on tackler, Willison.

But then came the start of an incredible turnaround in fortunes as when Halai showed his pace before stepping inside for the Blues' first try, the tide quickly turned, with fellow winger Li then reducing the margin to two when he raced down the left from the immediate restart.

Kirwan would've been wanting more of the same from his side - barring a misfiring line-out - and that was what he got when the teams returned. Like last week when they scored on 41 minutes, it was deja vu for the Blues when Moala pounced to put the home side in front.

The Blues were now playing with a swagger and when Piri Weepu's grubber off a scrum five metres out found Willison over the line, Hickey added the extras to make it 29-17 just seven minutes into the second-half. Hickey's penalty on 54 minutes further extended the gap.

It was then a case of soaking up the Crusaders' pressure as they were going to come and come hard in the closing quarter. The Blues ultimately did that sufficiently as only a Ryan Crotty score from the visitors, following a nice offload from replacement Israel Dagg, meant the Blues would hold on for victory that deprived the Crusaders a losing bonus-point.

The Crusaders host the Stormers next week while the Blues embark on their South African tour, starting at the Bulls before going to the Lions full of confidence after this performance.

The scorers:

For Blues:
Tries: Halai, Li, Moala, Willison
Con: Hickey 3
Pen: Hickey 3
Yellow: Luatau (66 mins - not rolling away)

For Crusaders:
Tries: Flynn, Slade, Crotty
Con: Taylor 3
Pen: Taylor

Blues: 15 Charles Piutau, 14 Frank Halai, 13 George Moala, 12 Jackson Willison, 11 Tevita Li, 10 Simon Hickey, 9 Piri Weepu, 8 Peter Saili, 7 Luke Braid (c), 6 Steven Luatua, 5 Tom Donnelly, 4 Patrick Tuipulotu, 3 Charlie Faumuina, 2 James Parsons, 1 Sam Prattley.
Replacements: 16 Keven Mealamu, 17 Tony Woodcock, 18 Angus Ta'avao, 19 Liaki Moli, 20 Brendon O'Connor, 21 Bryn Hall, 22 Benji Marshall, 23 Pita Ahki.

Crusaders: 15 Colin Slade, 14 Rob Thompson, 13 Rey Lee-Lo, 12 Ryan Crotty, 11 Nafi Tuitavake, 10 Tom Taylor, 9 Andy Ellis, 8 Kieran Read (c), 7 Richie McCaw, 6 George Whitelock, 5 Dominic Bird, 4 Sam Whitelock, 3 Owen Franks, 2 Corey Flynn, 1 Tim Perry.
Replacements: 16 Ben Funnell, 17 Wyatt Crockett, 18 Nepo Laulala, 19 Luke Romano, 20 Matt Todd, 21 Willi Heinz, 22 Adam Whitelock, 23 Israel Dagg.

Referee: Mike Fraser (New Zealand)
Assistant referees: Garratt Williamson (New Zealand), Shane McDermott (New Zealand)
Television match official: Ben Skeen (New Zealand)

Forthcoming Fixtures
FixtureDetails
All times are local
Aviva Premiership
Friday , September 19
Gloucester vs Exeter19:45
Saturday , September 20
Sale vs London Welsh14:00
London Irish vs Saracens15:00
Harlequins vs Wasps15:00
Bath vs Leicester15:15
Sunday , September 21
Newcastle vs Northampton14:00
More Aviva Premiership fixtures
Guinness PRO12
Friday , September 19
Munster vs Zebre19:30
Cardiff Blues vs Ulster19:35
Connacht vs Leinster19:35
Saturday , September 20
Newport Gwent D'gons vs Glasgow14:40
Scarlets vs Benetton Treviso18:00
Sunday , September 21
Ospreys vs Edinburgh16:00
More Guinness PRO12 fixtures
Top 14
Friday , September 19
Brive vs Toulon18:00
Saturday , September 20
Racing Metro Paris vs Toulouse18:00
La Rochelle vs Bordeaux-Begles18:00
Clermont Auvergne vs Lyon18:00
Castres vs Oyonnax18:00
Grenoble vs Bayonne18:00
Montpellier vs Stade Francais18:00
More Top 14 fixtures
Currie Cup
Friday , September 19
Lions vs Pumas19:10
Saturday , September 20
Western Province vs Griquas15:00
Blue Bulls vs Sharks17:05
Eastern Province Kings vs Cheetahs19:10
More Currie Cup fixtures
ITM Cup
Wednesday, September 17
Southland vs TasmanSouthland vs Tasman Preview
Thursday , September 18
Northland vs Taranaki19:35
More ITM Cup fixtures
Recent Results
FixtureDetails
All times are local
Aviva Premiership
Sunday , September 14
Wasps 20 - 16 NorthamptonWasps vs Northampton Report
Newcastle 18 - 20 London IrishNewcastle vs London Irish Report
More Aviva Premiership results
Guinness PRO12
Cardiff Blues 12 - 33 GlasgowCardiff Blues vs Glasgow Report
More Guinness PRO12 results
Top 14
Bordeaux-Begles 27 - 21 MontpellierBordeaux-Begles vs Montpellier Report
More Top 14 results
ITM Cup
Waikato 26 - 21 Counties ManukauWaikato vs Counties Manukau Report
Hawkes Bay 41 - 0 Otago
More ITM Cup results
Aviva Premiership
Saturday , September 13
Gloucester 34 - 27 Sale SharksGloucester vs Sale Sharks Report
Bath 53 - 26 London WelshBath vs London Welsh Report
Exeter 20 - 24 LeicesterExeter vs Leicester Report
More Aviva Premiership results
Rugby Championship
New Zealand 14 - 10 South AfricaNew Zealand vs South Africa Report
Australia 32 - 25 ArgentinaAustralia vs Argentina Report
More Rugby Championship results
Guinness PRO12
Leinster 42 - 12 ScarletsLeinster vs Scarlets Report
More Guinness PRO12 results
Top 14
Toulouse 9 - 13 Clermont AuvergneToulouse vs Clermont Auvergne Report
Racing Metro Paris 28 - 11 LyonRacing Metro Paris vs Lyon Report
Bayonne 23 - 6 Brive
Oyonnax 40 - 27 Grenoble
Toulon 24 - 28 Stade FrancaisToulon vs Stade Francais Report
More Top 14 results
Currie Cup
Griquas 31 - 27 PumasGriquas vs Pumas Report
Cheetahs 30 - 30 SharksCheetahs vs Sharks Report
Lions 35 - 33 Western ProvinceLions vs Western Province Report
More Currie Cup results
ITM Cup
Bay Of Plenty 12 - 27 AucklandBay Of Plenty vs Auckland Report
Southland 36 - 34 Northland
More ITM Cup results
Aviva Premiership
Friday , September 12
Harlequins 0 - 39 SaracensHarlequins vs Saracens Report
More Aviva Premiership results
Guinness PRO12
Benetton Treviso 10 - 21 MunsterBenetton Treviso vs Munster Report
Newport Gwent D'gons 15 - 17 Ospreys
More Guinness PRO12 results
Aviva Premiership Table
PosTeamPPts
1Saracens29
2Bath29
3Leicester Tigers29
4Exeter26
5Northampton26