The Blues suffered an immediate setback when Tanielu Tele’a’s comeback from a lengthy injury break was ended after an off the ball hit from Sione Havili Talitui, which meant a backline reshuffle after only a few minutes.
Will Jordan opened the scoring with a brilliant try, running onto a pass from David Havili and eluding three tacklers on a weaving run reminiscent of Christian Cullen in his hey-day. More poor defence almost created another try for the ominous Crusaders, but the Blues shook off their poor start to dominate the next 20 minutes. However, it turned into an exercise in futility trying to crack the Crusaders’ line, as their organised pack held out a series of drives.
Hoskins Sotutu looked to have put the Blues on the board after he was put into a huge gap by Otere Black, but a TMO check revealed that the Blues number 8 didn’t ground the ball over the line.
From there the Crusaders swung back into action, with a kick downfield pinning the Blues in their 22 and forcing a forward pass from Stephen Perofeta. The resulting scrum saw Sevu Reece dot down out wide and extend the lead to 12-0 at the break.
A flurry of penalties to open the second half saw the Blues get on the scoreboard, with Black slotting two easy shots from in front to make the score 15-6. The Crusaders could feel them breathing down their neck and again it was Mo’unga who swung the momentum with a beautiful kick into the 22 that pinned Caleb Clarke up against his line and forced a penalty. The resulting attacking lineout saw Codie Taylor do what he’s become very good at, sitting at the back of the drive and scoring a crucial try.
The rest of the game was an exercise in futility for the Blues, who tried hard but just couldn’t break the red and black wall in front of them despite a decent share of possession. But their fate was sealed when Reece, who had an outstanding game on both sides of the ball, snared a turnover that led to David Havili kicking ahead for Jordan to score his second and make the final score 29-6.
The Crusaders now have the week off, and will prepare to host the Final back at home on Saturday 8th May.
Crusaders 29 (Will Jordan 2, Sevu Reece, Codie Taylor tries; Richie Mo’unga 3 con, pen. ) Blues 6 (Otere Black 2 pen.) HT: Crusaders 12-0