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Mo’unga produces masterclass as Crusaders topple Blues


A scintillating performance from Richie Mo’unga led the Crusaders to a 43-27 victory over the Blues in the clash of the
New Zealand titans and cemented their grip on Super Rugby Aotearoa on
Sunday.

AS IT HAPPENED | Blues v Crusaders

Both sides went into the match unbeaten and the Blues had hometown
advantage, but they could not consistently match the relentless power of
the Crusaders pack coupled with Mo’unga’s direction of a more
enterprising backline. 

In a clash that featured 20 All Blacks, the Blues were still in with a chance at nine points down with seven minutes remaining.

But when Ofa Tu’ungafasi was yellow-carded, the Crusaders cashed in
on the one-man advantage and extended the lead with a further try.

In addition to directing the Crusaders attack, Mo’unga scored one of
their four tries, converted them all and added five penalties for a
match haul of 28 points.

Crusaders captain Scott Barrett likened the intense clash to a Test match and it was a relief to get through it.

“Just hanging tough, and turning pressure into points and then holding on for the win. It was a real battle,” he said.

The Blues conceded 16 penalties and captain Patrick Tuipulotu said that proved costly.

“There was a lot of wrongdoing and against a side like the Crusaders you can’t have that and the scoreboard showed it,” he said.

The first three times the Crusaders entered the Blues 22 they moved the scoreboard with two tries and a penalty. 

After an early Otere Black penalty had the Blues 3-0 ahead, the Crusaders
replied with a try to Jack Goodhue following up a well-weighted grubber
kick from Bryn Hall.

Passing errors

The Blues regained the lead
with a counter-attack try to Blake Gibson after Crusaders wing Leicester
Fainga’anuku dropped a pass when he had an open run to the line. 

It was not the only passing error to hinder the Crusaders in the
first quarter, but once they settled the visitors had the better of the
backline match ups and began to dominate territory.

A second visit close to the Blues line and Mo’unga landed a penalty
while their third foray resulted in a try to Codie Taylor from a lineout
drive.

The Crusaders continued the momentum into the second half with a
Mo’unga penalty, two minutes after the resumption, pushing the lead to
20-7. 

But there was still fight left in the Blues who struck back when Tuipulotu
favoured a lineout over a penalty shot at goal and it produced a try to
Kurt Eklund.

But the pressure on the Blues of constantly defending was starting to
show as Mo’unga landed three penalties in quick succession.

In the closing stages, Eklund scored his second try to keep the Blues
in touch only for Mo’unga to respond for the Crusaders and when Hoskins
Sotutu scored for the Blues, a try to Crusaders’ wing Sevu Reece put
the result beyond doubt.

Scorers:

Blues

Tries: Blake Gibson, Kurt Eklund (2), Hoskins Sotutu

Conversions: Otere Black, Harry Plummer

Penalty: Black

Crusaders

Tries: Jack Goodhue, Codie Taylor, Richie Mo’unga, Sevu Reece

Conversions: Mo’unga (4)

Penalties: Mo’unga (5)

Teams:

Blues

15 Stephen Perofeta, 14 Bryce Heem, 13 Rieko Ioane, 12 Harry Plummer, 11 Caleb Clarke, 10 Otere Black, 9 Jonathan Ruru, 8 Hoskins Sotutu, 7 Blake Gibson, 6 Akira Ioane, 5 Josh Goodhue, 4 Patrick Tuipulotu (captain), 3 Nepo Laulala, 2 Luteru Tolai, 1 Alex Hodgman

Substitutes: 16 Kurt Eklund, 17 Karl Tu’inukuafe, 18 Ofa Tu’ungafasi, 19 Gerard Cowley-Tuioti, 20 Tom Robinson, 21 Adrian Choat, 22 Finlay Christie, 23 TJ Faiane

Crusaders

15 Will Jordan, 14 Sevu Reece, 13 Jack Goodhue, 12 David Havili, 11 Leicester Fainga’anuku, 10 Richie Mo’unga, 9 Bryn Hall, 8 Cullen Grace, 7 Sione Havili Talitui, 6 Ethan Blackadder, 5 Sam Whitelock, 4 Scott Barrett (captain), 3 Michael Alaalatoa, 2 Codie Taylor, 1 Joe Moody

Substitutes: 16 Brodie McAlister, 17 George Bower, 18 Oli Jager, 19 Quinten Strange, 20 Whetukamokamo Douglas, 21 Mitchell Drummond, 22 Fergus Burke, 23 Dallas McLeod


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