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Crusaders kick off Super rugby title defence with Blues victory

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Super rugby champions the Crusaders kicked off the defence of their title with a tight 22-24 victory over the Blues at Eden Park in Auckland.

The victory is the Crusaders their ninth straight victory over the Auckland side who they have not lost to since 2014.


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The Crusaders led 3-12 at half time but were holding on by the end of the match as the Blues missed two late kicks that could have drawn or won them the match.

The Crusaders outscored the Blues by four tries to three but two of the Crusaders tries came from penalty tries.

The first try of the match came after Blues fullback Michael Collins made a mistake with the ball which allowed Manasa Mataele to pounce and score.

The Crusaders scored again at the end of the opening half with the first of their two penalty tries. That also saw Tom Robinson sent to the sin-bin with a yellow card.

Going into half time the Crusaders had all of the momentum but it was the Blues that came out firing.

From well into their half the Blues turned the ball over and Michael Collins and Patrick Tuipulotu combined to put Akira Ioane into space after fending off Richie Mo’unga to score the home side’s opening try.

The Blues then brought on extra All Black power from their replacements bench which led to prop Ofa Tu’ungafasi scoring under the posts.

With an upset starting to look it was possible the Crusaders showed why they are back to back champions with a run from George Bridge who sliced through the Blues and sent a wide pass out to Mataele who scored his second of the match.

The Crusaders kept the pressure on from there and they were awarded a second penalty try which took the score to 17-24 with just under 20 minutes to play.

Augustine Pulu brought the Blues back into contention with the final try of the match and debutant Harry Plummer missed the chance to level the scores with the conversion.

Plummer was given the chance to win the match in the final minutes from 45 metres out but he missed again. That allowed the Crusaders to hold on for the victory.

Next week the Crusaders return home to Christchurch where they host the Hurricanes. The Blues travel to South Africa where they will face the Sharks in Durban.

Final Score Blues 22 (3) Crusaders 24 (12)

Scorers

Blues
Tries -A. Ioane,  O.Tu’ungafasi, A.Pulu
Pen – O.Black
Con – O.Black, H. Plummer
Drop –
Cards – T.Robinson (25th minute yellow)

Crusaders
Tries – M.Mataele 2, Penalty try 2
Pen –
Con – Penalty try conversion 2
Drop –
Cards – B.Funnell (66th min yellow)

Match Officials
Referee: Nick Briant
Assistant Ref 1: Federico Anselmi
Assistant Ref 2:Dan Waenga
TMO :Ben Skeen

Teams

Blues

15 Michael Collins, 14 Melani Nanai, 13 Ma’a Nonu, 12 TJ Faiane, 11 Rieko Ioane, 10 Otere Black, 9 Jonathan Ruru; 8 Akira Ioane, 7 Dalton Papalii, 6 Tom Robinson, 5 Josh Goodhue, 4 Patrick Tuipulotu (c), 3 Sione Mafileo, 2 James Parsons, 1 Alex Hodgman.

Replacements: 16 Matt Moulds, 17 Karl Tu’inukuafe, 18 Ofa Tu’ungafasi, 19 Gerard Cowley-Tuioti, 20 Matt Matich, 21 Augustine Pulu, 22 Harry Plummer, 23 Sonny Bill Williams.

Crusaders

1. Joe Moody, 2. Andrew Makalio ,3. Owen Franks , 4. Scott Barrett ,5. Quinten Strange 6. Jordan Taufua , 7. Matt Todd (C) , 8. Whetukamokamo Douglas , 9. Bryn Hall 23. Will Jordan*, 10. Richie Mo’unga , 11. George Bridge , 12. Ryan Crotty (VC) , 13. Braydon Ennor , 14. Manasa Mataele , 15. David Havili

Replacements : 16. Ben Funnell , 17. Tim Perry ,18. Michael Alaalatoa ,19. Luke Romano ,20. Tom Sanders ,21. Mitchell Drummond ,22. Mitchell Hunt

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