The Crusaders have played the Blues 35 times in Super Rugby since 1996; the three-time defending champion Crusaders have won 24 matches and lost 11.
The Crusaders’ 24 wins give them a record of winning 69% of their games against the Blues regardless of venue.
- The Christchurch-based side has won their last 11 consecutive Super Rugby games against the Blues; their previous defeat to the Auckland club came in Round 3, 2014.
- The Blues have won their last seven Super Rugby games on the bounce; the last and only previous time they won more in succession was a 12-game stretch during an undefeated 1997 campaign.
- The Crusaders has scored (12) more tries and conceded (4) fewer tries than any other team during Super Rugby Aotearoa; in fact, they have conceded just two tries before the 60th-minute of games so far this campaign.
- The Blues comprise three of the five players to have made multiple lineout steals so far in Super Rugby Aotearoa, with Hoskins Sotutu, Patrick Tuipulotu, and Tom Robinson each snatching two wins against the throw this season.
- The Saders are undefeated in their last 35 Super Rugby games played as hosts (34 wins and one draw). Their last defeat at home came in Round 17, 2016 against the Hurricanes.
We are waiting for the kick-off.
1.00: PEEEEP! We are underway at a sold-out Orangetheory Stadium in Christchurch. The Blues are undefeated in seven, but they have not beaten the Crusaders since 2014. The Saders have not lost in 35 matches at home, which is a formidable record.
2.00: The playing conditions are perfect considering the time of year, it’s only the dew that the players will need to contend with.
3.00: Beauden Barrett strays offsides following a decent series of attacks by the Blues.
5.00: The Blues’ lineout has improved as the year has gone by; they win their throw and use Akira Ioane to bash the ball up through the midfield before Barrett rubbers the ball to the corner.
6.00: The Saders lose their own throw and concede a 5m scrum, 15 metres in from touch.
7.00: TIME OFF! the referee calls the front rows over for a stern chat. Paul Williams moves to the opposite side of the scrum after another reset.
8.00: NO TRY! Hoskins Sotutu breaks off the back of the scrum and smashes his way through three defenders, however, the big No 8 the ball is held-up by a Crusaders hand. That was superb defending. It might have been Richie Mo’unga’s hand that got under the ball with the help of George Bridge. 0-0
9.00: Scrum reset. Blues look dangerous.
10.00: TRY! Codie Taylor is offside, but it does not matter because Mark Telea stretched out to dot down in the corner after taking Otere Black’s long, skip-pass. 0-5
12.00: CONVERSION! Black slots the sideline conversion. 0-7
14.00: Telea breaks down the sideline, from his half and into the Saders’ 22, but he is dragged down by Bridge. The winger could not find support, and when he did, the ball was passed into touch.
17.00: Ioane gets pinged for a neckroll allowing the Crusaders to kick to the corner.
19.00: Brilliant work by Dalton Papali’i to steal the ball from the Crusaders after Codie went close. Mo’unga’s pass to David Havili was poor allowing the Blues to push up and clear their lines.
20.00: Another penalty goes the way of the home side after Sotutu is off his feet. Mo’unga overcook his kick, and the ball is out, behind the in-goal area. Scrum to the visitors near their 10m.
21.00: Scrum reset – again.
24.00: The penalties are mounting against the visitors, but the Blues’ pack is disrupting the home lineout, winning a scrum after another handling error by the hosts.
27.00: Another penalty goes the way of the hosts. James Parsons leaves the field after a long delay, he will be checked for an HIA.
28.00: PENALTY! Mo’unga puts his team on the board. 3-7
30.00: The Crusaders are slowly squeezing the visitors now, they have the front-foot ball and the penalties are mounting against McDonald’s men. Mo’unga calls for the tee.
32.00: PENALTY! Mo’unga doubles his team’s tally from in front. 6-7
34.00: Barrett falls foul of the ref, now. He is pinged for going off his feet. The Blues squander another good opportunity inside the opposition’s half.
37.00: The Crusaders go 13 phases, attacking the wide channels and using their pack for pick and drives in central areas. The Blues win possession, but knock-on inside their 22.
39.00: Sotutu intercepts a loose pass from Bryn Hall, which allows his team to clear the danger.
41.00: A seven-phase attack ends with another knock-on by the Saders. PHEW! Scott Robertson’s men are all over the Blues. One last scrum before the interval.
42.00: Michael Alaalatoa scrums inwards, gets pinged, and Barrett boots the ball into touch.
The halftime score was Crusaders 6 Blues 7
41.00: PEEEEP! We are back underway in the Land of the Long White Cloud for the second half of this tight top of the table Super Rugby Aotearoa clash.
42.00: Joe Moody strays offside with an early challenge. Barrett kicks to the Crusaders’ 22.
44.00: The Blues were building momentum with a 12-phase attack on the Saders’ line; they win a penalty and Black calls for the tee.
45.00: PENALTY! Black can’t miss from that close in front. 6-10
47.00: The Blues concede another penalty; Mo’unga will take a shot.
48.00: PENALTY! Mo’unga, from in front, adds the three. 9-10
50.00: Alaalatoa concedes another scrum-penalty, this time for not holding his bind. Harry Plummer steps up for this long-range effort.
52.00: MISS! Plummer’s kick is well wide, and the crowd cheers. 9-10
54.00: Plummer went close after David Havili’s knock-on led to Braydon Ennor knocking the ball back into his in-goal and Bridge dotting down. Scrum, five to the Blues.
55.00: TRY! The Saders demolish the Blues pack, but they concede the scrum. The Blues took the quick-tap, and Rieko Ioane crashes over to score. 9-15
56.00: CHARGED DOWN! Ennor charges down the conversion attempt. 9-15
57.00: Richie Mo’unga takes the restart quickly, catching the Blues off-guard. The first-five gathers his short kick and races away to the 22, but the ball is lost forward in the secondary phases. WOW!
59.00: It’s all Crusaders now.
61.00: TRY! Sustained pressure saw Bridge break down the left-wing after Mo’unga’s double-pump delayed pass to the winger. Bridge drew the last defender and sent Mitch Drummond away for the score. 14-15
62.00: Mo’unga puts his team in the lead for the first time in the game. 16-15
64.00: Telea takes out a Saders, but gives away a soft penalty. Mo’unga boots to the corner.
67.00: PENALTY! Mo’unga extends the lead to four. 19-15
70.00: The Crusaders have another attacking lineout on the Blues line.
71.00: CHARGED DOWN! Mo’unga’s drop-kick is charged down. 19-15
74.00: The Crusaders must score, here, they are all over the Blues, who look leggy.
76.00: TRY! Will Jordan ghosts through the gap to win the game for his team. 24-15
77.00: CONVERSION! Mo’unga adds the extras following his assist. 26-15
79.00: The Crusaders keep possession and are running down the clock.
81.00: The hooter sounds, and the ball is kicked into touch, ending one of the games of the season.
The final score is Crusaders 26 (6) Blues 15 (7)
Tries – Drummond, Jordan
Pen – Mo’unga (4)
Con – Mo’unga (2)
Tries – Telea, R. Ioane
Pen – Black
Con – Black
Referee: Paul Williams
Assistant Ref 1: Ben O’Keeffe
Assistant Ref 2: James Doleman
TMO: Mike Fraser
15 David Havili, 14 Sevu Reece, 13 Braydon Ennor, 12 Jack Goodhue, 11 George Bridge, 10 Richie Mo’unga, 9 Bryn Hall, 8 Whetukamokamo Douglas, 7 Tom Christie, 6 Tom Sanders, 5 Mitchell Dunshea, 4 Sam Whitelock, 3 Michael Alaalatoa, 2 Codie Taylor (captain), 1 Joe Moody
Replacements: 16 Andrew Makalio, 17 George Bower, 18 Oli Jager, 19 Quinten Strange, 20 Sione Havili, 21 Mitchell Drummond, 22 Fetuli Paea, 23 Will Jordan
15 Beauden Barrett, 14 Mark Telea, 13 Rieko Ioane, 12 Harry Plummer, 11 Caleb Clarke, 10 Otere Black, 9 Finlay Christie; 8 Hoskins Sotutu, 7 Dalton Papali’i, 6 Akira Ioane, 5 Josh Goodhue, 4 Patrick Tuipulotu (captain), 3 Ofa Tuungafasi, 2 James Parsons, 1 Alex Hodgman
Replacements: 16 Kurt Eklund, 17 Karl Tu’inukuafe, 18 Sione Mafileo, 19 Aaron Carroll, 20 Blake Gibson, 21 Jonathan Ruru, 22 Thomas Faiane, 23 Matt Duffie