The Blues Development team kicked off where the Blues left off last night, hammering the Crusader Knights 50-12 at Bell Park in Auckland today.
The victory was built on a strong defensive effort and despite the lack of time together as a team the players gelled quickly to produce some impressive attacking plays.
Blues lock Anthony Boric made his return to the field after a 12 month injury lay off and got through 40 minutes of solid work.
Ronald Raaymakers opened the scoring in the fourth minute.
After the Blues won a line out against the throw, second five-eighths Pita Ahki made a midfield break and managed to pop an offload up to Raaymakers who went in under the posts.
With all the early ball the Blues were pushing hard on attack but a number of simple handling errors prevented scoring opportunities.
But it was a handling error from the visitors that lead to the Blues second try.
When the ball popped in the air, prop Ofa Tu’ungafasi quickly passed on to first five-eighths Marty McKenzie who sensed no one was back on defence and sent a chip kick over the line and ran through to place it down in goal. Converting his own try, he took the score out to 14 nil.
The Blues forwards delivered an immensely physical performance, making life difficult for the Crusaders who struggled to get any go forward in the first half.
Centre Malakai Fekitoa made a midfield bust and showed good pace for the Blues third try, taking a 21-0 lead into the half time break.
Raaymakers kicked off the second half like he did the first, with another try.
This time it was in support of Fekitoa who made yet another bust through the midfield and timed a great offload to Raaymakers to go under the posts.
The Crusaders finally found some good field position with half an hour of the game left. Aided by a number of penalties, it was Hayden Cripps that broke the seal, crossing for their first of the match.
Shortly after, Tu’ungafasi was sent to the sinbin for tackling a player in the air and a slight momentum shift saw the Crusaders lift the intensity.
Nepo Lualala barged over for their second try in the space of four minutes, to close the deficit to 28-12.
The Blues halted the momentum with a McKenzie penalty and worked tirelessly on defence to stop further scoring opportunities.
When restored to the full complement of players the Blues put the game beyond doubt – scoring three tries in the closing 10 minutes.
A break from replacement first five-eighths Cody Rei set up Lolagi Visinia for a try before a stunning individual run from 17-year-old Tevita Li down the left hand touch saw the young star touch down for a try of his own.
Waisake Naholo bought up the half-ton showing his power and neat footwork to go in under the posts.
Coach Bevan Cadwallader said he was pleased to see combinations come together so quickly.
“The attitude out there was great ñ to put 50 points on any Crusaders team is an achievement,” said Cadwallader.
Blues Development 50 (R Raaymakers 2, M McKenzie, M Fekitoa, L Visinia, T Li, W Naholo tries, M McKenzie 4 con 1 pen, C Rei 2 con)
Crusader Knights 12 (H Cripps, N Laulala tries, T Elkington 1 con)†