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Crusaders

FULL-TIME
28     13

Blues

Super Rugby | Christchurch
06:35 (GMT) | 04-03-2016
  • 82
Join us in Canberra for the next clash between the Brumbies and the Waratahs. Yet another derby...
  • 81
Not exactly the cracker we were expecting in Christchurch, but the Crusaders will be happy with the result, coming off last weekend's loss.
  • 80
Richie Mo'unga made it easy for himself, and quickly converts his own try for the extras. Some last minute scrambling by the Blues from the kick off doesn't result in much, and the game ends on 28-13 to the Crusaders.
  • 79
With a minute left in this game, the Crusaders have possession just inside the Blues' half, and Richie Mo'unga snatches an intercept from a turnover to run in the final try of the game untouched.
  • 75
Conversion is good from Ihaia West. 21-13 to the Crusaders with 5 minutes left to play.
  • 74
From a good scrum platform, Tevita Li crosses the whitewash... but the ref goes up to the TMO to check the final pass to see if it's a forward pass. But in New Zealand, that pass is considered "flat", and it's a try to the Blues!
  • 73
Penalty to the Blues midway between the Crusaders' 22 and try-line presents an attacking opportunity for them, and they bravely opt for the scrum call. With the subs on, the balance in the scrums has shifted somewhat.
  • 69
Richie Mo'unga fails to convert however, with the score remaining at 21-6 to the home side. It took some spectacularly brutal running from Nadolo to spark that, the only (non-penalty) try of the game.
  • 68
But the fat lady has not sung yet! Out of nowhere, Nadolo makes a barnstorming run, swatting off a few Blues defenders, eventually laying the platform for a Crusaders try through the skipper, Kieran Read.
  • 65
A scrum on halfway for the Crusaders results in them winning the ball and building some phases with some fairly unfruitful back and forth passes. Both teams seem to have run out of ideas.
  • 62
A do-over for Richie Mo'unga here, and this time it sails through the posts. Much to his relief.
  • 60
From a Crusaders counter-attack and some good pressure, they're awarded a penalty just on the 22 metre line of the Blues. But the Crusaders make a complete hash of it. Not the greatest shot at posts, ever.
  • 58
Play is back inside Crusaders territory now, and from a pinpoint line-out and a few good phases, the Blues are awarded a very kickable penalty here. Hoping to cut into the points deficit through the boots of Ihaia West... and it's good!
  • 53
The Blues absorb some major pressure from the Crusaders to win the ball back in what was deemed a maul by the ref. Scrum put-in to the Blues on their own 5 metre line. Some pressure relieved with a touch-finder by the Blues, but it results in a line-out to the Crusaders just inside their 22.
  • 50
50 minutes in and it's not quite the try fest we were expecting here in Christchurch. Poor handling and plenty of unforced errors have diminished the excitement factor of this game somewhat, and frustration is starting to show in some of the players. Hopefully some changes, with a few subs coming on to the field now, can inject something into the contest.
  • 47
The Blues deflect another attempt from the Crusaders to cross the whitewash from a line-out maul. Great defence by the Blues, and poor organisation at the rolling maul by the home side.
  • 45
Owen Franks smells blood and tries to barge his way over the try-line, but is held up by the Blues players.
  • 44
Like two heavyweight boxers, the Crusaders and Blues seem to be feeling each other out here, both waiting for their opposition to make a mistake so they can pounce. As it stands in the 44th minute, play is inside the Blues' half, with a line-out about 10 metres out from the Blues' try-line to the Crusaders.
  • 41
And the players are all back out on the pitch, with the Blues up against it. The second stanza of this clash could prove interesting yet.

Half Time

  • 40
The half-time horn sounds, and the teams head into the sheds. We're sure Tana Umaga will have a few choice words for his players during the break. But will it be enough to get them coming back out, firing? It's been a typical, physical derby match, with a penalty try being the only one of the match so far.
  • 39
A bit of messy interplay between the two teams here, and the end result is a kickable penalty to the Crusaders just inside the Blues' half... Richie Mo'unga makes a hash of it though, and misses. Score remains at 13-3 as the first half winds down.
  • 32
Another power scrum for the Crusaders midway between the Blues' 22 and try-line could spell trouble for the boys from Auckland here. But in a strange twist, the scrum penalty goes the way of the Blues! Looks like they still have some fight left in them.
  • 29
Another massive scrum by the Crusaders. They seem to be walking the opposition at will here, and the Blues forwards will have to front up if they're to put up any sort of challenge.
  • 27
The big hits are coming in thick and fast here, and big George Moala gives one of the Crusaders midfielders something to think about with a smashing rib-tickler.
  • 25
The referee brings the play back for a penalty advantage to the Crusaders at the scrum, and Richie Mo'unga successfully adds another 3 points.
  • 19
Richie Mo'unga makes good on the conversion, and brings the score to 10-3. Crusaders calmly taking control of this game here... it's up to the Blues to come to the party and disrupt their momentum, if they're to stand any chance of clawing back the game.
  • 18
And it's a penalty try to the Crusaders! Their scrum was just too much for the Blues to handle. The home side takes the lead thanks to their forwards.
  • 16
Crusaders opt for a scrum five metres out from the Blues' try line. Brave call by the skipper, let's see if it pays off... Kieran Read picks it up from the back of the scrum and tries to barge over, but loses it forward. Ref brings the play back for another penalty though, and the Crusaders want another scrum.
  • 12
Matt McGahan successfully slots his penalty - a sitter, to be fair - and he brings the scores level to 3-3.
  • 11
Some enterprising play and a couple of good offloads by the Blues brings the play into the Crusaders' 22, just in front of the sticks, and they're awarded the penalty. In the meantime, Andy Ellis has taken a knock and seems to be bleeding - he's off to clean up.
  • 9
Ball handling still leaves a lot to be desired in this game, with lots of unforced errors creeping through. Early season jitters most likely, but it means lots of stoppages at this stage. A knock-on by the Crusaders gives the Blues the edge at another scrum, just inside their half.
  • 7
Some aimless kicking by the Crusaders brings the play all the way back to their 22, with a scrum to the Blues. The Crusaders put the Blues scrum under the pump though, and win the penalty.
  • 3
And it's good! Richie Mo'unga makes it three points to the Crusaders early on. Has he set the tone for the rest of the game?
  • 2
Two minutes in and we have our first scrum, with a Crusaders put-in. The home side's scrum seems stable enough, and they win the ball on their own feed, and run a few phases upfield, that results in a penalty for the Crusaders. Mo'unga to take a pot at goal.
  • 0
After bowing out to the Chiefs last weekend, the Crusaders will be looking to claw back some log points in this, their second home game of the season. And the referee blows that all-important starting whistle. Here, we, go!
  • -5
Five minutes to kick-off, and the mascots (and horses - Go Crusaders) are clearing the field. Players are having their final words in the huddle in their respective change-rooms, and boy, do they look fired up. Another great Kiwi derby on the way to kick off the Super Rugby weekend. Conditions are perfect!
  • -10
Pundits are tipping the Crusaders to take this by a small margin, but after the Blues' performance last week against the defending champions, Highlanders, it could still go either way. Whatever the outcome, we're expecting some exciting rugby, with plenty of tries on the cards.
  • -20
Last week it was South Africa's big north-south derby and this week New Zealand will put on display their biggest domestic rivalry - the Crusaders versus the Blues. It dates back many decades, to the days of Auckland versus Canterbury - in the NPC and even before that, the Ranfurly Shield challenge.
  • -30
Welcome to Christchurch where we are preparing for the first match of Week Two in Super Rugby - the seven-time champion Crusaders against the three-time champion Blues. It should be a cracker!
Mc crusaders logo 80x50
Crusaders
Mc blues logo 80x50
Blues
START LINE UP
  • 15 David Kaetau Havili
  • 14 Jone Macilai-Tori
  • 13 Sean Wainui
  • 12 Kieron Fonotia
  • 11 Nemani Nadolo
  • 10 Richie Mo’unga
  • 9 Andy Ellis
  • 8 Kieran Read
  • 7 Tim Boys
  • 6 Jordan Taufua
  • 5 Sam Whitelock
  • 4 Scott Barrett
  • 3 Owen Franks
  • 2 Codie Taylor
  • 1 Joe Moody
RESERVES
  • 23 Johnny McNicholl
  • 22 Ben Volavola
  • 21 Leon Fukofuka
  • 20 Pete Samu
  • 19 Jimmy Tupou
  • 18 Michael Alaalatoa
  • 17 Wyatt Crockett
  • 16 Ben Funnell
START LINE UP
  • 15 Matt Duffie
  • 14 Melani Nanai Vai
  • 13 Rene Ranger
  • 12 George Moala
  • 11 Tevita Li
  • 10 Matt McGahan
  • 9 Billy Guyton
  • 8 Steven Luatua
  • 7 Blake Gibson
  • 6 Jerome Kaino
  • 5 Josh Bekhuis
  • 4 Patrick Tuipulotu
  • 3 Sione Mafileo
  • 2 Quentin MacDonald
  • 1 Ofa Tu'ungafasi
RESERVES
  • 23 Male Sa'u
  • 22 Ihaia West
  • 21 Bryn Hall
  • 20 Kara Pryor
  • 19 Akira Ioane
  • 18 Charlie Faumuina
  • 17 Sam Prattley
  • 16 James Parsons
Mc article wycliff palu waratahs and christian lealiifano brumbies 800

S18 PREVIEW: ROUND TWO, PART ONE

Wed, 02 Mar 2016 21:06

IN THE SPOTLIGHT. Jan de Koning looks at the Friday matches in Part One of Super Rugby's Round Two.

Last week it was South Africa's big north-south derby and this week New Zealand will put on display their biggest domestic rivalry - the Crusaders versus the Blues.

It dates back many decades, to the days of Auckland versus Canterbury - in the NPC and even before that, the Ranfurly Shield challenge.

Between them they have also won 10 of the 20 Super Rugby titles on offer since the game turned professional in 1996.

The Blues' slump in recent years - they have not finished inside the top 10 since 2011, when they were beaten semifinalists - diluted the rivalry a bit.

However, the Blues' impressive start to the season under new coach Tana Umaga will ensure the intense rivalry is back at the top of the pops.

And from there we hop across the Tasman Sea to Canberra for Australia's biggest rivalry - the Brumbies against the Waratahs.

It used to be the Reds versus the Tahs, but the slump of the Brisbane-based franchise - the Reds have finished 13th in the last two 15-team Super Rugby seasons - means the Brumbies v Tahs is now the big deal Down Under.

We look at the Friday, March 4, matches below!


(AMI Stadium, Christchurch - Kick-off: 19,35; 06.35 GMT)

You can't ask for a better start to the weekend's action - two traditional rivals with plenty at stake.

The Blues will be determined to continue the impressive start they made under new coach Tana Umaga.

The resolve and change in attitude - from recent Blues campaigns - suggest the decision to discard John Kirwan had been the correct one.

However, they will face a Crusaders team determined to bounce back from a heartbreaking loss to the Chiefs last week - when two late tries managed to snatch victory from the Christchurch-based outfit.

Crusaders coach Todd Blackadder, despite the opening round stumble, believes his team has the makings of a team that can contest the play-offs.

Blackadder said the frustrating nature of last week's defeat prompted him to keep the same combination.

"We know that those players will only be more determined this week to take another step up," he told stuff.co.nz.

"So we want to give them the opportunity to go out there and show what they are really capable of."

He said the physicality and intent that the team showed for most of the game was fantastic.

"We felt that we were dominant in many respects for a good portion of that game," the coach added.

"That is what makes the loss even more frustrating for the players though."

The Blues are well aware of the challenge awaiting them, having to travel south and cross the Cook Strait.

"They've got a formidable forward pack and we've got a lot of respect for them, but we've got a pack of our own that's going pretty good as well," Blues No.8 Steven Luatua told stuff.co.nz.

Luatua, Preparing for his 50th match, said the Blues have a lot of confidence after last week's win.

"Against the Crusaders, if you give away too much of a lead, they're going to put you in a choke hold and it's hard to get out of," the All Black said.

"It's been a couple of years since we've won down there so that's definitely in the back of our minds.

"It's a huge challenge for us and we're excited by that."

Recent results:
2015: Crusaders won 34-11, Auckland
2015: Crusaders won 29-15, Christchurch
2014: Crusaders won 21-13, Christchurch
2014: Blues won 35-24, Auckland
2013: Crusaders won 23-3, Christchurch
2013: Blues won 34-15, Auckland

Prediction: The Crusaders have won each of their last three matches against the Blues, conceding 15 points or fewer in each of those three
games. The Crusaders opening round loss to the Chiefs means they will be aiming to avoid consecutive Super Rugby losses for the first time since Round 10, 2015. The Blues won a home Round 1 fixture for the first time since 2011 and will now be hunting for back-to-back victories in Super Rugby for the first time since Round 17, 2014. The Crusaders boasted a perfect ruck success rate last time out, winning all 40 in their match against the Chiefs in Round 1. They were the only team to maintain a 100 percent ruck success on their own ball. The Blues won 14 line-outs in the opening round, while only the fourth most of any team it was the most of any team who didn't lose a line-out in Round One. Tough to call so early in the season, but we will go with a home town win - the Crusaders to bounce back and sneak a late winner, by five points.

Teams:

Crusaders: 15 David Havili, 14 Jone Macilai, 13 Sean Wainui, 12 Kieron Fonotia, 11 Nemani Nadolo, 10 Richie Mo'unga, 9 Andy Ellis, 8 Kieran Read, 7 Tim Boys, 6 Jordan Taufua, 5 Samuel Whitelock (captain), 4 Scott Barrett, 3 Owen Franks, 2 Codie Taylor, 1 Joe Moody.
Replacements: 16 Ben Funnell, 17 Wyatt Crockett, 18 Mike Alaalatoa, 19 Jimmy Tupou, 20 Pete Samu, 21 Leon Fukofuka, 22 Ben Volavola, 23 Johnny McNicholl.
 
Blues: 15 Matt Duffie, 14 Melani Nanai, 13 Rene Ranger, 12 George Moala, 11 Tevita Li, 10 Matt McGahan, 9 Billy Guyton, 8 Steven Luatua, 7 Blake Gibson, 6 Jerome Kaino (captain), 5 Josh Bekhuis, 4 Patrick Tuipulotu, 3 Sione Mafileo, 2 Quentin MacDonald, 1 Ofa Tu'ungafasi.
Replacements: 16 James Parsons, 17 Sam Prattley, 18 Charlie Faumuina, 19 Akira Ioane, 20 Kara Pryor, 21 Bryn Hall, 22 Ihaia West, 23 Male Sa'u.

Referee: Paul Williams (New Zealand)
Assistant referees: Chris Pollock (New Zealand), Brendon Pickerill (New Zealand)
TMO: Ben Skeen (New Zealand)


(GIO Stadium, Canberra - Kick-off: 19.45; 08.45 GMT)

As if Australia's two top teams going head-to-head is not enough, you have the delectable showdown between two of the game's best openside flanks.

In the absence of the now retired Richie McCaw, Michael Hooper (Waratahs) and David Pocock (Brumbies) will both look to lay claim to the title of breakdown master - not that they were ever far off.

The Wallaby teammates, Hooper and Pocock, will play crucial roles in what could be one of the more intriguing encounters of Round Two.

Their battle will set the tone for what is expected to be a real arm-wrestle between two teams with ambitions of going all the way to the Final.

Last week Pocock found himself on the wrong end of some refereeing calls, but the Brumbies have already made adjustments to their game.

Brumbies playmaker Matt Toomua confirmed that the breakdown was a focal pint this week.

Toomua - like Pocock - was yellow-carded in the second half of their 52-10 win over the Hurricanes last week for repeated breakdown offences.

He said they had reviewed the tape and found areas to improve.

"At the time we thought: 'We've never done anything wrong on the field'," he said in an interview on rugby.com.au.

"However, we looked back at the tape and to be fair Leesy [referee Andrew Lees] was pretty spot on with a few of the calls,” Toomua said.

"We don't want to take the pressure away, we want to make it a contest - but we have to do it legally."

The Brumbies, while looking to continue with the expansive element of their game, definitely have a Plan B in the bank.

"A lot of it [tries] was from set piece, not much phase play so hopefully we can get that this week," the playmaker said.

"However, if it is scrums and mauls that win the game so be it," he said.

Recent results:
2015: Waratahs won 13-10, Canberra
2015: Waratahs won 28-13, Sydney
2014: Waratahs won 26-8, Sydney (semifinal)
2014: Waratahs won 39-8, Sydney
2014: Brumbies won 28-23, Canberra
2013: Waratahs 28-22, Sydney
2013: Brumbies won 35-6, Canberra

Prediction: The Waratahs have won each of their last four matches against the Brumbies, keeping them to fewer than 14 points on each occasion. The Brumbies became the first Australian team other than the Waratahs to score 50 or more points in a Super Rugby match since 2011 when the Reds beat the Rebels 53-3; Waratahs have managed the feat twice since then. The Brumbies have won only one of their last five games immediately following a match in which they scored 50+ points. The Waratahs have won 11 of their last 13 games against Australian opposition with both defeats in that run coming against the Force. The last time the Waratahs lost to an Australian team that wasn't the Western Force was in Round Five, 2014 against the Brumbies (lost 23-28). The Waratahs scored three of their four tries in the opening half of their match against the Reds in the last round, only the Cheetahs (four) managed to score more in the opening 40 minutes. These derbies are always tough to predict early in the season, but the Brumbies certainly have the better form and they are at home, so they should be able to edge the Waratahs - and it will be by single digits.

Teams:

Brumbies: 15 Aidan Toua, 14 Henry Speight, 13 Tevita Kuridrani, 12 Matt Toomua, 11 Joe Tomane, 10 Christian Lealiifano (co-captain), 9 Tomás Cubelli, 8 Ita Vaea, 7 David Pocock, 6 Scott Fardy, 5 Sam Carter, 4 Blake Enever, 3 Ben Alexander, 2 Stephen Moore (co-captain), 1 Scott Sio.
Replacements: 16 Josh Mann-Rea, 17 Allan Alaalatoa, 18 Leslie Leulua'iali'i-Makin, 19 Jordan Smiler, 20 Jarrad Butler, 21 Michael Dowsett, 22 Andrew Smith, 23 Nigel Ah Wong.

Waratahs: 15 Israel Folau, 14 Matt Carraro, 13 Rob Horne, 12 David Horwitz, 11 Zac Guildford, 10 Kurtley Beale, 9 Nick Phipps, 8 Jed Holloway, 7 Michael Hooper (captain), 6 David Dennis, 5 Will Skelton, 4 Dean Mumm, 3 Angus Ta'avao, 2 Tatafu Polota-Nau, 1 Paddy Ryan.
Replacements: 16 Tolu Latu, 17 Matt Sandell, 18 Jeremy Tilse, 19 Sam Lousi, 20 Wycliff Palu, 21 Jack Dempsey, 22 Matt Lucas, 23 Bryce Hegarty.

Referee: Marius van der Westhuizen (South Africa)
Assistant referees: Quinton Immelman (South Africa), William Houston (Australia)
TMO: Ian Smith

Compiled by Jan de Koning
@King365ed
@rugby365com

* Statistical information provided by Opta Sports

Mc article nemani nadolo crusaders 800

Crusaders bring Blues back to earth

Fri, 04 Mar 2016 08:24

REPORT: The Crusaders brought the Blues down to earth with a bang as they beat them 28-13 in their Super Rugby showdown in Christchurch on Friday.

After last week's win over the defending-champion Highlanders the Blues had come into this game with high hopes.

The seven-time champion Crusaders bounced back in fine fashion after being defeated in the opening round.

In an error-riddled encounter the Crusaders outscored their North Island rivals by three tries to one - one of the Crusaders' tries of the penalty variety as a result of their first-half scrum dominance.

The Blues - trailing 3-13 at the break - sorted out their set-piece issues in the second half, but they struggled to break down the Crusaders and never came closer than eight points (13-21) to the Crusaders.

Two tries in the final quarter - by Kieran read and Richie Mo'unga - settled the game in favour of the home team.

The Crusaders dominated the early exchanges as the sides exchanges penalties.

With their forwards on top, the home side were rewarded with a penalty try in the 18th minute, after the Blues repeatedly collapsed the scrum.

The Crusaders went into the break unlucky to be up only 13-3, after failing to fully capitalise on a string of handling errors and penalties from the Blues.

The aggression continued with two chances for the Crusaders after the restart.

First prop Joe Moody was held up over the line, then the Blues needed desperate defence from Ihaia West to prevent a Jordan Taufua try.

New All Black captain Kieran Read finally broke through after a run from wing Nemani Nadolo left the Blues' defence flat footed.

Wing Tevita Li managed a consolation try for the Blues, but Richie Mo'unga sealed the Crusaders' victory with a five-pointer in the final minute.

Man of the match: Rene Ranger was very busy and Melani Nanai also racked up the metres, while Blake Gibson was a bundle of energy and a rock on defence. Kieran Read seems to be easing his way back to some form, while Tim Boys was the most productive forward for the Crusaders. Our award goes to the Crusaders' Fijian powerhouse Nemani Nadolo. Although he was far from flawless, in a game of few stand-out players, his powerful bursts often got the home team on the front foot when they needed it most - including setting up the crucial try scored by Read in the final quarter.

The scorers:

For the Crusaders:
Tries:
Penalty try, Read, Mo'unga
Cons: Mo'unga 2
Pens: Mo'unga 3

For the Blues:
Try:
Li
Con: West
Pens: McGahan, West

Teams:

Crusaders: 15 David Havili, 14 Jone Macilai, 13 Sean Wainui, 12 Kieron Fonotia, 11 Nemani Nadolo, 10 Richie Mo'unga, 9 Andy Ellis, 8 Kieran Read, 7 Tim Boys, 6 Jordan Taufua, 5 Samuel Whitelock (captain), 4 Scott Barrett, 3 Owen Franks, 2 Codie Taylor, 1 Joe Moody.
Replacements: 16 Ben Funnell, 17 Wyatt Crockett, 18 Mike Alaalatoa, 19 Jimmy Tupou, 20 Pete Samu, 21 Leon Fukofuka, 22 Ben Volavola, 23 Johnny McNicholl.
 
Blues: 15 Matt Duffie, 14 Melani Nanai, 13 Rene Ranger, 12 George Moala, 11 Tevita Li, 10 Matt McGahan, 9 Billy Guyton, 8 Steven Luatua, 7 Blake Gibson, 6 Jerome Kaino (captain), 5 Josh Bekhuis, 4 Patrick Tuipulotu, 3 Sione Mafileo, 2 Quentin MacDonald, 1 Ofa Tu'ungafasi.
Replacements: 16 James Parsons, 17 Sam Prattley, 18 Charlie Faumuina, 19 Akira Ioane, 20 Kara Pryor, 21 Bryn Hall, 22 Ihaia West, 23 Male Sa'u.

Referee: Paul Williams (New Zealand)
Assistant referees: Chris Pollock (New Zealand), Brendon Pickerill (New Zealand)
TMO: Ben Skeen (New Zealand)

Kieran Read (18min), Kieran Read (68min), and Richie Mo’unga (79min)
TRIES
Tevita Li (74min)
Richie Mo’unga (19min) and Richie Mo’unga (79min)
CONVERSIONS
Ihaia West (75min)
Richie Mo’unga (3min), Richie Mo’unga (25min), and Richie Mo’unga (62min)
PENALTIES
Matt McGahan (12min) and Ihaia West (58min)
 
PENALTY TRIES
 
DROP GOALS
 
 
 
VENUE Christchurch
REFEREE Paul Williams (New Zealand)