The Crusaders continued their home-win record Friday night against the Blues, defeating the visitors 28-13 at AMI Stadium.
The Blues have not penetrated the AMI Stadium fortress since 2004 and tonight was no exception. The night started with Steven Luatua leading the team on to mark his 50th cap for the club. But right from kick-off, the home-side brought plenty of attacking aggression and the Blues’ response to the pressure was often found wanting and error-filled, leading to an early penalty goal and penalty try to the home side.
The Blues were able to get three points on the board before half time, bringing the score to 13-3 before both teams returned to the shed.
Some of the Blues’ firepower came off the bench after half-time, notably Charlie Faumuina who helped the Blues’ forwards respond to an excellent Crusaders front row.
But it wasn’t quite enough to prevent the Crusaders from setting up camp within the Blues’ 22 for much of the second half. At 56 minutes, the Crusaders had spent a massive nine minutes just outside of the Blues’ try line. The only thing that kept the Crusaders at bay was an excellent defensive line, protecting the try line under intense, multi-phase attack.
Ball-handling errors and ill-discipline leading to opposition penalties were also the order of the match. Crusaders first five Richie Mo’unga capitalised on Blues errors by kicking three penalty goals and two conversions.
The Blues’ only try came from Tevita Li in the 74th minute, converted by Ihaia West. But the seven points weren’t enough to bridge the points gap, further emphasised by a late try from Mo’unga just before full-time.
Crusaders 28 (Kieran Read, Richie Mo’unga; Mo’unga, 3 pens, 2 cons)
Blues 13 (Tevita Li; Matt McGahan 1 pen, Ihaia West 1 pen, 1 con)