A pre-playoffs hit-out set the BNZ Crusaders up for a 54-17 win over the Blues in the last round of Investec Super Rugby preliminary round play at AMI Stadium in Christchurch on Saturday.
 
Crossing for their first try in the third minute when centre Jack Goodhue was given space by fullback Israel Dagg, the Crusaders revealed their depth of patience as the Blues enjoyed a dominance of field position but were unable to capitalise as much as they wanted.
 
That was demonstrated at one stage when the Blues threw 21 phases at the BNZ Crusaders only to turn over the ball, see the ball moved downfield and within moments wing George Bridge was punishing the Blues with a 22nd minute try.

More hard work by the Blues was again negated just before halftime when prop Michael Alaalatoa drove strongly and set up the ball, which the Crusaders moved. When the ball was knocked back by Reiko Ioane, Mitchell Drummond reclaimed it and had the presence of mind to find wing Seta Tamanivalu, who scored beneath the posts.

To compound the situation the pre-break try was followed by another three minutes into the second half when Goodhue ran onto a perfect pass, at the precise angle, from Mo'unga to take them out to 26-5.

Having scored themselves courtesy of an intercept by Melani Nanai in the 30th minute, the Blues enjoyed a surge of scoring in the middle stages of the second half when a strong scrum on the BNZ Crusaders' line yielded a penalty try in the 51st minute.

Three minutes later Nanai was in again with a spectacular dive in the corner, but the closeness of the score at 26-17 merely stoked the Crusader fires. They finished apace, running in two more tries to Bridge and one each to lock Sam Whitelock and replacement halfback Bryn Hall.
 
For the Crusaders it was a tough hit-out, with all bench players gaining valuable time ahead of the playoffs and Bridge, through his hat-trick of tries, moving to a share of second place on the try scoring list across the competition.
 
It was a disappointing end to a frustrating season for the Blues side, who farewelled departing Jerome Kaino, the second most capped Blues player who completed 139 games for the side.

Scorers: BNZ Crusaders 54 (Jack Goodhue 2, George Bridge 3, Seta Tamanivalu, Sam Whitelock, Bryn Hall tries; Richie Mo'unga 4 con; Mitchell Hunt 3 con) Blues 17 (Melani Nanai 2, penalty try, tries). HT: 19-5
 
Match report courtesy of www.superrugby.co.nz