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Classy Crusaders power to victory over Blues

Andy Ellis won his 100th Super Rugby cap in the match

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Article Published: Saturday 18 May 2013






 The Crusaders made a statement of intent when they outclassed the Blues 23-3 in Christchurch moving them above the Blues in Super Rugby's top six.

The Blues made a strong start to the match dominating territory and possession but the Crusaders weathered the storm and slowly strangled the life out of the Blues.

The Crusaders play New Zealand Conference leaders the Chiefs in Hamilton next week and although a bonus point victory would not be enough to put them ahead of the Chiefs it would prevent the current champions from moving ahead in the conference.

The Crusaders scored two tries to nil, gaining momentum as the match wore on in front of a 17 264 strong sell-out crowd to continue the Blues' dismal record in Christchurch, where they have not won since 2004.

Over the years, matches between the two best-performed New Zealand teams in Super rugby history -- the Blues holding three titles and the Crusaders a record seven -- have developed into fierce derbies between the North and South Islands.

However, both sides this season are trailing defending champions the Chiefs for the coveted New Zealand conference top spot which guarantees a play-off berth, adding extra edge to the encounter.

Blues coach John Kirwan predicted Test-match intensity before the game and it lived up to the billing in the first half, played at a furious pace as both sides looked to pass the ball in attack and displayed committed defence.

But the Crusaders stamped their authority on the match in the second half, shrugging off some patchy performances early in their campaign to again show they can lift as the business end of the season approaches.

"Every game is a big one, a must win," said halfback Andy Ellis, who celebrated his 100th appearance for the team.

"You've got to build momentum going into the end of the season and everyone's really excited about getting up every week. The boys really fronted up tonight."

The Blues started brightly, forcing a turnover in the first minute and taking the ball through 14 phases before the Crusaders defenders dragged Frank Halai into touch.

They attacked down the flanks but it was the Crusaders who drew first blood with a penalty to Tom Taylor after 22 minutes.

Crusaders centre Ryan Crotty then charged down a clearing kick from the Blues and darted over the line for a try, with Taylor adding the conversion.

They almost had a second at half-time but Blues lock Calum Retallick illegally swatted down a pass to Luke Romano as he shaped for a run at the line, earning a yellow card for his efforts and gifting the Crusaders another penalty.

The Crusaders made the most of their one-man advantage after the restart when Owen Franks scored a converted try through a driving maul from the line-out, with the South Islanders adding another penalty shortly after to make it 23-3.

The Blues thought they had a try when Halai crossed in the 62nd minute but the referee ruled he had been held up after television replays proved inconclusive.

From there, the steam went out of the Blues challenge and the Crusaders comfortable closed out the match.

Final Score Crusaders 23 (13) Blues 3 (3)

Scorers

Crusaders
Tries - R.Crotty, G.Whitelock
Pen - T.Taylor 3
Con - T.Taylor 2
Drop -
Cards -

Blues
Tries -
Pen - C.Noakes
Con -
Drop -
Cards - C. Retallick (41st min yellow)

Match Officials
Referee:
Glen Jackson
Assistant Ref 1:Nick Briant
Assistant Ref 2:Kane McBride
TMO : Keith Brown

Teams

Crusaders

1. Wyatt Crockett ,2. Ben Funnell ,3. Owen Franks ,4. Luke Romano ,5. Sam Whitelock,6. George Whitelock ,7. Matt Todd,8. Kieran Read (c) ,9. Andy Ellis ,10. Dan Carter ,11. Zac Guildford ,12. Ryan Crotty ,13. Robbie Fruean ,14. Tom Marshall ,15. Tom Taylor

Replacements : 16. Corey Flynn,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

 
 
 
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