Crusaders stay alive with bonus point Blues victory

The Crusaders kept their hopes of reaching the 2015 Super Rugby play offs alive for another week by beating the Blues 11-34 with a bonus point.

The Crusaders scored three tries and were awarded a penalty try in the second half which earned the Crusaders five points in the standings.

The Crusaders have one remaining match of the regular season against the Brumbies in Canberra and they need to win that match to ensure that they do not miss the play off for the first time since 2001.

The bonus point win moved the Crusaders into seventh place but they are forced to rely on other results going their way to keep their faint hopes alive.

Their four tries to one victory gave the Crusaders back-to-back bonus points wins after their 35-18 defeat of the table-topping Hurricanes last week.

With Dan Carter back at his natural home of fly-half, after spending most of the year in the centre, the Crusaders have won consecutive games for the first time since round six.

The improvement, built around Carter’s astute reading of the game, has underscored an inconsistent season which has jeopardised their chance of extending a remarkable 14-year run of making the knockout stages.

They still did not look the complete package against the Blues whose chances of finishing in the top six were lost weeks ago and who treated this match as a warm up for next year.

Coach John Kirwan, having presided over a side that has lost 12 of 15 games and with 12 squad members injured, opted to pick a host of youngsters saying he wanted to test them out ahead of next season.

But rather than look like lost rookies, the Blues dominated the opening stages and clocked up a 6-0 lead through two Ihaia West penalties.

They then refused to buckle when the Crusaders bounced back with a brilliant piece of expertise by Nemani Nadolo, who leaped high to grab a Carter corner kick one handed to score their first try.

The Crusaders were immediately back on the attack but for 12 minutes they were held out by a resolute Blues defence, bravely led by fly-half West.

To end the stalemate the Crusaders quit a series of unproductive scrums for Carter to kick a penalty allowing them to regroup.

With their next onslaught, Luke Romano scored the Crusaders second try from a quick lineout and Carter’s conversion putting them 17-6 up at half-time.

The Crusaders looked to secure the win before going for the four-try bonus point as Carter kicked another close-range penalty early in the second half to extend the lead to 20-6.

But even with a comfortable buffer, and with All Blacks Sam Whitelock and Ryan Crotty unleashed off the bench, the Crusaders still made hard work of breaking through the defensive shield put up by the Blues’ greenhorns.

It was not until the final quarter that they bagged the remaining two necessary tries for the bonus point, and both result from their forward dominance.

The first was a penalty try after the Blues scrum collapsed on the line, and the second was scored by Matt Todd from a lineout drive.

Ben Lam scored a late try for the Blues.

The Blues finish their season with another match in Auckland against the Highlanders who will be playing for a home qualifier in Dunedin.

Final Score Blues 11 (6) Crusaders 34 (17) 

Scorers

Blues 
Tries – B.Lam
Pen – I.West 2
Con – 
Drop – 
Cards –

Crusaders
Tries – N.Nadolo, L.Romano, Penalty try, M.Todd
Pen – D.Carter 2
Con – D.Carter 4
Drop – 
Cards –

Match Officials
Referee: Chris Pollock
Assistant Ref 1:Ben O’Keeffe
Assistant Ref 2:Jamie Nutbrown
TMO : Ben Skeen

Teams

Blues

1. Sam Prattley , 2. James Parsons (c) , 3. Ofa Tu’ungafasi , 4. Will Lloyd , 5. Josh Bekhuis , 6. Joe Edwards , 7. Brendon O’Connor , 8. Airi Hunt , 9. Jimmy Cowan , 10. Ihaia West , 11. Melani Nanai , 12. George Moala , 13. Hamish Northcott , 14. Ben Lam , 15. Matt Vaega

Replacements : 16. Keven Mealamu , 17. Nic Mayhew , 18. Sione Mafileo , 19. Hayden Triggs , 20. Chris Vui , 21. Jamison Gibson-Park , 22. Simon Hickey , 23. Matt McGahan.

Crusaders

1 Wyatt Crockett , 2 Codie Taylor, 3 Owen Franks ,4 Luke Romano, 5 Dominic Bird ,6 Matt Todd ,7 Richie McCaw (c), 8 Jordan Taufua ,9 Mitchell Drummond ,10 Dan Carter ,11 Nemani Nadolo ,12 David Havili ,13 Robbie Fruean ,14 Nafi Tuitavake ,15 Tom Taylor

Replacements : 16 Ben Funnell ,17 Alex Hodgman,18 Nepo Laulala ,19 Sam Whitelock,20 Luke Whitelock, 21 Andy Ellis ,22 Ryan Crotty, 23 Kieron Fonotia

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