The Crusaders have won their last five matches against the Blues who have not tasted victory over the men from Christchurch since February 2014.
Even more worryingly from a Blues perspective is that the Crusaders have hosted the Blues 14 times in Christchurch and they have won 11 matches.
The Crusaders are one of just three teams that are still unbeaten, but the Blues have lost twice in the opening weeks of this year’s edition of Super Rugby.
The Blues have won only one of their last 21 games away from home against New Zealand opposition; a 34-20 win against the Hurricanes in Round 2, 2013, their only positive result in that span.
We are waiting for the kick-off.
The teams are out on the field to Vangelis’ Conquest of Paradise.
BEEP! We are off, referee Brendon Pickerill gets us underway.
2.00: The Blues open with several phases and win an early penalty. Piers Francis kicks for touch.
4.00: PENALTY! Blues go 12 phases and Patrick Tuipulotu is stopped short. They kick for another touch, five metres out.
5.00: Crusaders turn the ball over and clear their lines. the ball doesn’t go out and the visitors attack.
6.00: David Havili penalised for kicking the ball out of Michael Collins’ hands, who had stepped in at halfback. Blues kick for touch.
8.00: Crusaders have the first scrum of the game and catch their breath.
11.00: TRY! WOW! George Moala goes over in the corner after Matt Duffie gathers a loose ball. The Blues send it through the hands and a lovely offload sees the Moala score.
12.00: Great work from Augustine Pulu to get the ball away to Moala. The conversion is good.
14.00: The Blues have won over 20 rucks already and are on the attack. the home team need to weather this early storm.
16.00: Scrum in midfield to the Crusaders; they win a free kick and take it quickly.
17.00: Blues penalised and Crusaders kick for touch and have a lineout on the 22.
19.00: Crusaders set up a driving maul and drive to the goal line but, it’s stopped short. Some magic from Owen Franks, sees the prop fire a long pass to Ryan Crotty who is tackled short. The Blues clear after winning the lineout.
22.00: The ‘Saders have another attacking lineout but are penalised for not releasing in the tackle. Francis clears. The visitors are managing to keep the home team out but have been under some pressure in the past few minutes.
24.00: The Crusaders come again. Joe Moody smashes into a defender. The Crusaders are looking dangerous.
25.00: TRY! Crusaders finally get over after some white-line fever. Mitchell Hunt gets a short ball to Manasa Mataele, on debut, who dives in the corner.
26.00: Hunt can’t convert from wide out near the touch line. That was great play. Theb’Saders took it through some phases around the ruck, Bryn Hall passed to Moody – who was involved with three carries – was stopped on the line before the standoff sent Mataela in.
28.oo: Blues win another penalty and kick to touch inside the Crusaders’ half.
30.00: TRY BLUES! It’s Augustine Pulu with the score. It all started with the scrumhalf making a mini-break and giving a cheeky inside ball to Patrick Tuipulotu. The big man charges forward and gives the pass back to Pulu who beats two defenders and spins over to give the Blues the lead for the second time in the match.
The big man charges forward and gives the pass back to Pulu who beats two defenders and spins over to give the Blues the lead for the second time in the match.
31.00: Francis slots the easy two points.
33.00: The Blues attack again, the Crusaders under the pump.
35.00: TRY! Moala is in for his second. Duffie dances through a tackle who sets up another phase. Pulu shifts to the inside centre who sees Moody in front and steps on the gas to beat the prop forward.
36.00: Francis kicks his third conversion and the lead extends to 16 points with halftime close by.
39.00: PENALTY! Crusaders blown up for entering the ruck from the side. Mitchell Hunt kicks into the Blues’ 22. One last shot as the hooter goes.
40.00: Another chance with a five-metre lineout. Nothing comes from the sustained attack as the ball is lost. A wasted chance to reduce the deficit to 13 with an easy shot at goal.
The halftime score is Crusaders 5 Blues 21
The Blues dominated the opening 40 scoring three tries to one. The halftime stats show the Blues have beaten 16 defenders to three for the Crusaders, making eight breaks to one.
The Crusaders have shipped 16 tackles to the visitors’ three.
The Crusaders came back from 16 against the Reds and 21 against the Highlanders. Can they do it again?
BEEP! We’re back and the Blues have possession.
42.00: Blues taking the ball up with some runners, probing the home side’s defence.
The Crusaders have substituted both props; Franks and Moody did not return after the break.
43.00: Moala almost gets his third with a break in midfield but, he chooses to pass instead of backing himself to score. Crusaders have a scrum on the halfway line as Jed Brown leaves the field for a HIA.
46.00: PENALTY! Blues scrum is under pressure but they win the ball and have a chance to extend their lead to 19 points with a kick just outside the 22.
47.00: Francis makes no mistake.
49.00: Crusaders are on the attack; they win a penalty at the breakdown inside the Blues’ half. They opt for touch.
50.00: Another penalty for the Blues; the ref pings the away team for sacking the maul.
51.00: TRY CRUSADERS! The home team strike. It’s Peter Samu who gets up with the ball. The Crusaders set up a driving maul, peeled right, the defenders shifted and the substitute scores. The ref was going to confer with the TMO but, instead, awards the try himself.
52.00: Hunt adds the two. On second viweing, Samu looks to have lost the ball. Lucky break for the Crusaders.
54.00: The momentum has shifted. The Crusders’ driving maul is causing havoc. Two quick penalties follow the two before Samu’s try. The ref warns the Blues that he will go to his pocket on the next infringement. Lineout, five out to the home team.
55.00: TRY! Ben Funnell scores from a rolling maul. The Blues have no answer as the Crusaders are mounting another comeback in Christchurch.
56.00: Hunt makes it a one score game with his second conversion.
58.00: The benches are being emptied. What a game!
60.00: We enter the final quarter with the Blues under the pump. It was so easy in the first half but the Crusaders have turned the game on its head.
63.00: PENALTY! Oh no, Francis misses his first kick of the evening, an important one too.
65.00: Whetu Douglas has made 10 tackles so far this game. Scrum to the Blues.
67.00: Crusaders win a penalty for a neck roll. They kick to touch inside Blues territory.
68.00: Jimmy Tupou steals the ‘Saders’ ball and the Blues attack and win a scrum. The visitors have stemmed the early second half momentum of the home team but, this game is not over.
72.00: TRY! They’ve done it. The Crusaders’ take the lead after half a dozen phases and recycles. Hunt goes over with a little step. He did it against the Reds and he’s done it again as the scores are level.
73.00: Hunt converts his try and the comeback is achieved.
76.00: Another attacking lineout for the home team. They’re five metres out and will settle the game if they score.
78.00: Scrum Crusaders on the Blues’ 5. The home team are running down the clock.
79.00: TRY! GAME OVER. The Crusaders have done it. Mitchell Drummond powers over.
80.00: Hunt adds the two and the Blues are stunned. Wow!
The Blues are stunned. How did they lose this one? Moala’s loose pass early in the second half with the try line at his mercy, looks very costly. The visitors leave empty handed and the losing streak continues.
The final score after 80 minutes is Crusaders 33 (5) Blues 24 (21)
Tries – Mataele, Samu, Funnel, Hunt, Drummond
Con – Hunt (4)
Tries – Moala (2), Pulu
Pen – Francis
Con – Francis (3)
Referee: Brendon Pickerill
Assistant Ref 1: Angus Mabey
Assistant Ref 2: Cam Stone
TMO: Aaron Paterson
15 David Havili, 14 Manasa Mataele, 13 Jack Goodhue, 12 Ryan Crotty, 11 George Bridge, 10 Mitchell Hunt, 9 Bryn Hall, 8 Whetu Douglas, 7 Jed Brown, 6 Jordan Taufua, 5 Sam Whitelock (c), 4 Scott Barrett, 3 Owen Franks, 2 Codie Taylor, 1 Joe Moody
Replacements: 16 Ben Funnell, 17 Wyatt Crockett, 18 Michael Alaalatoa, 19 Luke Romano, 20 Pete Samu, 21 Mitchell Drummond, 22 Marty McKenzie, 23 Sean Wainui
15 Michael Collins, 14 Matt Duffie, 13 Rieko Ioane, 12 George Moala, 11 Melani Nanai, 10 Piers Francis, 9 Augustine Pulu, 8 Jerome Kaino, 7 Blake Gibson, 6 Jimmy Tupou, 5 Patrick Tuipulotu, 4 Gerard Cowley-Tuioti, 3 Ofa Tu’ungafasi, 2 James Parsons (captain), 1 Pauliasi Manu.
Replacements: 16 Matt Moulds, 17 Sam Prattley, 18 Sione Mafileo, 19 Akira Ioane, 20 Murphy Taramai, 21 Billy Guyton, 22 Ihaia West, 23 TJ Faiane.