Crusaders get a case of the Blues

Four tries in fifteen minutes by the boys in blue left the Crusaders unnerved and unable to claim back their lead at Eden Park on Friday night.

Despite being up by 17 points to 3 after 30 minutes, the Crusaders went on to concede 29 unanswered points.  A try to Ryan Crotty put them within 8 points with 8 minutes to go, but the Blues defence held strong and were rewarded with a last minute penalty to give them the 35-24 point win.

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Crusaders go down to the Chiefs

Blue skies and a sea of red in the sold-out AMI Stadium painted a stunning picture for the Crusaders’ season opener against the Chiefs, but that was the only pretty thing about this game.  Despite being dominant in both possession and territory, handling errors and missed goals dogged the Crusaders and resulted in a rare at-home loss.

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Crusaders take pre-season win in Motueka

Crusaders v Highlanders 07-02-14 pre-season Motueka 1The Crusaders gave fans in Motueka a preview that they'll be happy with last night, when they beat the Highlanders in their first pre-season game.  The Crusaders ran in four tries to take the 28-15 point win.

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Chiefs pip Crusaders in cliff hanger

The pre-match hype surrounding the Crusaders and Chiefs semi-final was justified. The match was played at a frenzied pace as both sides fought to book a spot in the grand final. The Chiefs are defending champs and were playing for a chance to go back to back. The Crusaders have rolled teams this season, including the Chiefs – but with finals footy anything can happen.

The first half was a physical encounter against a determined Chiefs outfit. The game was played at pace but no tries were scored in the first 40. The scoring instead was from the tee, Daniel Carter and Aaron Cruden traded penalties. Dan Carter took first points in the 5th minute landing a 41 metre kick and then another one from 40 in the 18th. Cruden got the home team on the board shortly after. When Referee Steve Walsh spotted another infringement late in the half - Carter stepped up to the tee. His Third kick of the night was a success, but he missed one before half-time following an incident at the break-down when Charlie Ngatai failed to roll away. 

Half Time score: Crusaders 9-3 Chiefs

The Chiefs had an ideal start to the second half, scoring 3 points through the boot of Aaron Cruden and chipping away at the lead. The Chiefs built momentum with some persistent running, eventually pushing the Crusaders back against their own line in the 57th minute, where the first try was scored. 

The Crusaders held off the home forward pack as they tried to muscle their way over from the fringes of the break downs. After a period of sustained attack, Tawera Kerr Barlow fired a deep pass out to Lelia Masaga. Masaga wound up and crashed into the Crusaders line - bouncing off defenders, his leg drive and power got him over the line to score a brilliant individual try. Cruden’s kick was successful and the home team stole the lead. Crusaders 9-13 Chiefs.

The next try was constructed at half way from an intercept. Ryan Crotty cleaned up a loose ball and passed it out into mid field, but instead of finding its way into the hands of a team mate Aaron Cruden shot into the line and snatched the ball. Cruden ran the last 45 metres untouched and even converted his own try - a good read from the young first five. Crusaders 9-20 Chiefs.

The Crusaders needed to strike next, and it was a senior player who put his hand up. Israel Dagg got his hands on the ball while the team was on the front foot. From first receiver he found a hole between Charlie Ngatai and Hika Elliot, and then ran around Asaeli Tikoirotuma to score in the corner. Carters’ kick from the sideline was on target and the margin was back to one try - a successful penalty kick from Carter in the 73rd minute made it a one point game! Crusaders 19-20 Chiefs

The last minutes of the game were gritty but the Crusaders could not overcome an uncompromising Chiefs defence. The defending champions will host the final against the Brumbies.

Final score Crusaders 19-20 Chiefs.

For the Crusaders, the focus will now turn to next season. Todd Blackadder has re-signed to lead the team into the 2014 campaign where he will no-doubt build on the highs of the teams 2013 season. 

Crusaders charge into the Semi Finals

The Crusaders have arrived at the business end of the season, and their all-round performance against the visiting Reds will certainly make the other Super Rugby qualifiers take notice. Richie McCaw also took the field to help secure the victory.

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