Crusaders blitz Blues to stay in hunt

Date published: June 6 2015

The Crusaders kept alive their hopes of making the play-offs after claiming a 34-11 win over the Blues in Auckland on Saturday.

The seven-time champions outscored their hosts by four tries to one but although they came away with the positive result they were made to fight for it and only secured a try-scoring bonus point late in the second half.

The victory moves the men from Christchurch into seventh place on the table, albeit momentarily as the Lions will be in action against the Stormers in Cape Town later in the day.

Although they scored two tries during the first half, the Crusaders didn't have things going their way as the Blues kept them at bay for large periods with a solid defensive effort especially after half-time.

The dam wall eventually burst and after two early tries from Nemani Nadolo and Luke Romano, as well as a penalty try midway through the second half, the Crusaders eventually got their fourth try when Matt Todd dived over from a rolling maul 15 minutes before full-time.

Ihaia West gave the hosts a 6-0 lead via two penalties inside the opening 10 minutes but the Crusaders struck back with a brilliant try from Nemani Nadolo.

The big Fijiian wing showed superb timing and handling skills as he outjumped Ben Lam to gather a Dan Carter cross-field kick close to the Blues' corner flag.

Nadolo regathered after tapping the ball forward and dived over for the opening try which Carter converted from close to the touchline. The visitors upped the ante as the half progressed and their forwards in particular dominated their counterparts.

Carter added a penalty to give the visitors and the visitors'dominance was rewarded when Luke Romano barged over from close quarters after the Crusaders took a quick throw-n at a line-out inside the Blues' 22.

The Blues were under the cosh for most of the half and their best chance of scoring a try came shortly before half-time when their forwards launched a drive deep inside the visitors' 22. They managed to get over the whitewash but were held up.

Although the Crusaders were chasing that crucial bonus point, it didn't look like it and their decision to kick for posts five minutes after the restart seemed a strange.

Carter slotted the penaty after the Blues were penalised for illegal scrummaging and the next 15 minutes was a frustrating period for the visitors as they went in search of their bonus point.

Their dominance in scrums was rewarded with a penalty try and five minutes later Todd's five-pointer brought a huge sigh of relief in the vistors' ranks.

To their credit, the Blues kept on playing and they reaped the benefits shortly before the end when Ben Lam went over after gliding through a hole in the vistors' defensive line close to their tryline.

The scorers:

For Blues:
Tries: Lam
Pens: West 2

For Crusaders:
Tries: Nadolo, Romano, penalty try, Todd
Cons: Carter 4
Pens: Carter 2

Blues: 15 Matt Vaega, 14 Ben Lam, 13 Hamish Northcott, 12 George Moala, 11 Melani Nanai, 10 Ihaia West, 9 Jimmy Cowan, 8 Airi Hunt, 7 Brendon O’Connor, 6 Joe Edwards, 5 Josh Bekhuis, 4 Will Lloyd, 3 Ofa Tu’ungafasi, 2 James Parsons (c), 1 Sam Prattley. 
Replacements: 16 Keven Mealamu, 17 Nic Mayhew, 18 Sione Mafileo, 19 Hayden Triggs , 20 Chris Vui, 21 Jamison Gibson-Park, 22 Simon Hickey, 23 Matt McGahan.

Crusaders: 15 Tom Taylor, 14 Nafi Tuitavake, 13 Robbie Fruean, 12 David Havili, 11 Nemani Nadolo, 10 Dan Carter, 9 Mitchell Drummond, 8 Jordan Taufua, 7 Richie McCaw (c), 6 Matt Todd, 5 Dominic Bird, 4 Luke Romano, 3 Owen Franks, 2 Codie Taylor, 1 Wyatt Crockett.
Replacements: 16 Ben Funnell, 17 Alex Hodgman, 18 Nepo Laulala, 19 Sam Whitelock, 20 Luke Whitelock, 21 Andy Ellis, 22 Ryan Crotty, 23 Kieron Fonotia.

Referee: Chris Pollock