VIDEO: Clinical Crusaders bounce back
SUPER RUGBY REPORT: The Crusaders bounced back from last week’s loss to the Chiefs to demolish the Blues in an entertaining encounter in Auckland on Friday.
Outscoring their hosts by three tries to one, the Crusaders recorded a 25-8 triumph at a sparsely populated Eden Park.
The Blues looked threatening in the opening exchanges, but ultimately the Crusaders showed their class – as they produced a clinical and efficient display to race clear.
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“We had a bit of hurt that was bottled up inside us and knew we had to start well and play for the full 80,” Crusaders captain Scott Barrett said.
The Blues last won against the 10-time champions in early 2014, but coach Leon MacDonald – desperate for success against the franchise he represented for 12 years – was talking up their chances before the match.
It counted for nothing as knock-ons and mistakes in the set-piece meant the Blues failed to convert their superior possession into points.
“We just couldn’t capitalise on anything and they just managed to do what they do,” a frustrated Blues skipper Patrick Tuipulotu said after his side fumbled six line-outs.
Tuipulotu helped the Blues make a strong start, spinning out of a tackle to score the opening try when Stephen Perofeta’s chip kick opened up the defence.
The Crusaders hit back when wing George Bridge gathered a one-handed Jack Goodhue offload and crossed the line in the 27th minute.
They were unlucky not to get another when Sevu Reece broke through a few minutes later, with only a last-gasp tackle from Perofeta restricting the Crusaders’ lead to 11-5 at half-time.
Tries to Richie Mo’unga and Goodhue after the break saw the Crusaders race to a 25-8 lead, with a Will Jordan effort ruled offside.
The Blues tried to rally but the Crusaders’ relentless defence held them out, preventing a consolation try after the siren.
Man of the match: Ofa Tuungafasi produced an amazing workrate. Stephen Perofeta had an amazing start to the game, with some sublime touches – including a few well-timed chip-kicks and cut-out passes. He also beat seven defenders and made two clean breaks. For the Crusaders Braydon Ennor and Tom Christie were immense on defence. After a slow start, Richie Mo’unga got into his stride after the break and stamped his authority on the game, while Jack Goodhue also showed some great touches. Crusaders fullback David Havili wins our award – not just for his goal-kicking, but he cut the Blues line numerous times and beat defenders almost at will. He was also solid in the last line of defence.
For the Blues:
For the Crusaders:
Tries: Bridge, Mo’unga, Goodhue
Cons: Havili 2
Pens: Havili 2
Blues: 15 Matt Duffie, 14 Jordan Hyland, 13 Joe Marchant, 12 Thomas Faiane, 11 Mark Telea, 10 Stephen Perofeta, 9 Jonathan Ruru, 8 Hoskins Sotutu, 7 Blake Gibson, 6 Dalton Papalii, 5 Josh Goodhue, 4 Patrick Tuipulotu (captain), 3 Ofa Tuungafasi, 2 James Parsons, 1 Karl Tu’inukuafe.
Replacements: 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 (captain), 3 Oliver Jager, 2 Codie Taylor, 1 Joe Moody.
Replacements: 16 Andrew Makalio, 17 George Bower, 18 Michael Alaalatoa, 19 Luke Romano, 20 Sione Havili, 21 Mitchell Drummond, 22 Brett Cameron, 23 Will Jordan.
Referee: Paul Williams (New Zealand)
Assistant referees: Brendon Pickerill (New Zealand), Angus Mabey (New Zealand)
TMO: Shane McDermott (New Zealand)