The Blues’ miserable season hit rock bottom on Saturday night as they were thrashed 59-12 by the Crusaders in Christchurch.
It was a far cry from the Blues’ first outing of the season where just one point separated the two teams as the Red and Blacks scored their biggest ever victory over Pat Lam’s men tonight.
Crusaders head coach Todd Blackadder had applied the blowtorch to his team during the week following a lacklustre performance against the Rebels, and his side came out breathing fire to run in five first half tries before adding another four after the break.
The injury ravaged Blues, missing 11 of their frontline players, did manage two consolation tries as Bordeaux-bound Lachie Munro showed his class to score a brace, but it did little to mask the embarrassing performances of his teammates.
The Crusaders were as brilliant as the Blues were woeful.
Another misfiring lineout, far too many kicks out on the full and a surprisingly brittle scrum all handed the ball to the Crusaders on a platter, and they indulged in a veritable feast.
When Benson Stanley dropped a high ball, Piri Weepu couldn’t clear from the ruck and Gareth Anscombe was bundled into touch five metres from his try line, the Crusaders pounced.
From the lineout, the Crusaders produced a rolling maul and Matt Todd crashed over to open his side’s account just four minutes in.
Adam Whitelock crossed for a well executed try after 10 minutes, and when his younger brother Sam was denied a five pointer in almost exactly the same spot moments later, the Crusaders just stole the ball from the ensuing lineout as Richie McCaw bashed his way over the line.
Days after being named in the 35-man All Blacks squad, Crusaders lock Luke Romano joined in on the scoring action to bag the four try bonus point, and a superb try to Corey Flynn saw the home side build a 31-0 lead at halftime.
The Blues would surely have been read the riot act by Pat Lam during the break but it seemed to have little effect as Crusaders halfback Andy Ellis glided through some terrible defence from a five metre scrum to extend his side’s lead just three minutes into the second spell.
By the time the Blues finally found their way to the try line on the 62 minute mark, they were starting down the barrel of a 45-5 defeat, and there was more pain to come.
Zac Guilford and Ryan Crotty both sliced through some lacklustre defence to add salt to the wound, but the Blues did have the final say as Munro crossed for his second try of the night after the fulltime siren had sounded.
The Blues have a lot of work to do before facing the Highlanders at Eden Park on Saturday night who saw off a fierce challenge from the Bulls to prevail 16-11.