The Crusaders extended their winning streak against the Blues to ten straight matches by beating the Auckland side 19-11 at AMI stadium in Christchurch.
Both teams scored one try each and the result came down to kicking opportunities with Richie Mo’unga out-kicking Harry Plummer.
Mo’unga kicked four penalties and a conversion compared to Plummer who was unable to convert the Blues try but was successful with two penalty attempts.
Crusaders half back Bryn Hall scored the only try of the first half and winger Rieko Ioane crossed for the Blues try late in the second half.
The Crusaders have just two matches remaining in the regular season but this victory gives them a 13 point lead over the Hurricanes who have three matches remaining.
It has been a difficult week for the Crusaders as after their two match tour of South Africa allegations of offensive behaviour surfaced and an investigation into this is ongoing.
While the Blues never really threatened they did pull close with the late Rieko Ioane try which took the score to 16-11 but a Richie Mo’unga penalty with four minutes remaining pushed the gap out to 8 points which meant the Auckland side would have score twice to win.
“It wasn’t pretty at times,” said Crusaders captain Sam Whitelock after the match.
“We had a few challenges coming home from South Africa, a short turnaround, a few of the boys had a lack of sleep this week.”
Although two of the Crusaders players, Mo’unga and George Bridge, were identified in the off-field accusations in South Africa, the pair seemed to be unaffected by the controversy and played crucial roles in the result.
Bridge and Mo’unga were both denied tries by the TMO because of earlier infringements but flyhalf Mo’unga still scored 14 of the Crusaders 19 points and his well-weighted chip kick for Ryan Crotty set up Bryn Hall’s try.
Next week the Crusaders travel to Suva Fiji to play the Chiefs on Saturday while the Blues host the Bulls in Auckland on Friday.
Final Score Crusaders 19 (13) Blues 11(3)
Tries – B.Hall
Pen – R.Mo’unga 4
Con – R.Mo’unga
Tries – R.Ioane
Pen – H.Plummer 2
Referee: Mike Fraser
Assistant Ref 1: Brendon Pickerill
Assistant Ref 2:Glen Jackson
TMO :Aaron Paterson
15 David Havili, 14 Sevu Reece, 13 Jack Goodhue, 12 Ryan Crotty, 11 George Bridge, 10 Richie Mo’unga, 9 Bryn Hall, 8 Whetukamokamo Douglas, 7 Matt Todd, 6 Jordan Taufua, 5 Sam Whitelock (captain), 4 Scott Barrett, 3 Michael Alaalatoa, 2 Andrew Makalio, 1 Joe Moody
Replacements: 16 Brodie McAlister, 17 Isi Tu’ungafasi, 18 George Bower, 19 Luke Romano, 20 Ethan Blackadder, 21 Mitchell Drummond, 22 Mitchell Hunt, 23 Braydon Ennor
1 Alex Hodgman, 2 Leni Apisai, 3 Ofa Tuungafasi, 4 Patrick Tuipulotu, 5 Scott Scrafton, 6 Tom Robinson, 7 Blake Gibson ©, 8 Akira Ioane; 9 Jonathan Ruru, 10 Harry Plummer, 11 Rieko Ioane, 12 Ma’a Nonu, 13 TJ Faiane, 14 Caleb Clarke, 15 Melani Nanai.
Replacements: 16 James Parsons, 17 Marcel Renata, 18 Lua Li, 19 Gerard Cowley-Tuioti, 20 Hoskins Sotutu, 21 Augustine Pulu, 22 Otere Black, 23 Levi Aumua.