Blow-by-blow: Crusaders v Blues

GLENN CONWAY
Last updated 21:14 01/03/2013
Dan Carter
Iain McGregor
IN TRAINING: Dan Carter at Rugby Park this week.

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Crusaders

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The Crusaders open the new season tonight against the Blues.

The Press chief reporter and rugby fanatic Glenn Conway was live blogging throughout the match. Read his rolling updates below.

Log back in at 9.30am Saturday to discuss the match with Press rugby expert Richard Knowler. What did he make of the result I wonder? Find out in our Live Chat.

9.12: Game over. The Blues celebrate and well might they.

They were committed and determined and showed a confidence lacking in previous sides recently from the City of Sails.

Back to the drawing board for the Crusaders. Plenty to work on.

Final score: 34-15.

Next week is no easier with the Hurricanes at home in Wellington for the red and blacks.

9.09: Into the last minute. Sad viewing. Not the start to the season we wanted.

9.08: Blackadder and his team have plenty to work on.

They were rusty as I feared but you can't take this away from the Blues - totally deserved winners.

9.07: So the Blues count down the final minutes.

Last week, they killed the Hurricanes away from home. Tonight, they deal to the Crusaders with almost crazy ease.

JK, Henry and co have sent out a huge statement - they are Super 15 title contenders.

9.06: Not much to be gained in the last few minutes unless we grab a couple of quick tries to sneak a bonus point.

But I don't think so.

9.05: Gotta give the Blues their dues. They have been phenomenal and there is no coming back for us. 34-15

9.04: The Blues. Remarkable pace. Finishing in a class of their own.

This has been comprehensive.

9.03: Salt in the wound. Fantastic running try to the Blues.

9.03: Bad call from the video referee. No way was that a double movement.

Robbed of a try, no doubt.

9.02: Tonight is just not our night.

9.01: Double movement ruled. Controversial call and the last nail in the coffin.

9pm: Can the Crusaders grab a try and make a fist of it?

Even if its awarded, there's still lots to do and little time to do it.

8.59: Have we scored? Upstairs. Looks good to me

8.57: OK, I'm calling it. The Blues just wont give this match up. Big call I know.

8.56: The Blues are doing all the right things.

This is looking dire for the red and blacks.

8.55: More subs from the Crusaders. Fresh legs definitely needed but time is marching on. 11 minutes to go.

8.54: That defence from the Blues is outstanding. JK and Henry will be quietly confident. Their charges are really playing out of their skins.

We just can't break that goal line.

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8.51: Superb defence from the Blues. Just classy.

8.50: Five metre scrum right out in front. If we don't score off this move, the Blues will hold on, I reckon.

8.49: Crunch time for us. A try is needed. No question.

Pressure from the forwards, over the line but held up.

Frustration.

8.48: Piri Weepu is subbed. What an effort. He really owned the battle of the halfbacks.

8.47: Our backs just aren't getting the space they need. The Blues defence is covering well too.

8.45: Prediction: if we don't score points in the next five minutes, this game is gone.

8.44: The Blues grab their fourth try, a bonus point, and also another seven points. This will be tough for the red and blacks now.

8.43: Big break by the Blues. They look more likely. And that dominance is rewarded with a well constructed try based on speed, aggression and good basic team work. Try time.

8.42: Fruean off for us. Big loss. We need as much attacking muscle as we can get.

8.41: Blues looking more organised. Crusaders just need a lucky break I think. 

8.39: Crusaders concede another penalty and Weepu gets a shot to stretch the lead out to an uncomfortable 8 points but drags it left.

Phew!

8.38: Aggression from Ellis at the scrum. More of that needed. 

8.36: Blues look threatening on attack.

Crusaders now on the run. What a topsy-turvy match.

8.35: At this stage, either side could score but you have to think we need the next points to keep our tails up.

8.34: The forwards on both sides trying to dominate and both making mistakes in a bid to land the killer punch.

8.31:  Crusaders defence sharper. Blues still dangerous. A lot more even in the exchanges up front now.

8.30: Get the feeling we're in for a cracker here. 

8.29: Well deserved penalty out in front.

Definitely have more get up and go this half, do the Crusaders.

Would have been nice to dot down but three certain points better than nothing.

The gap now 5.

8.28: Forwards punching it up slowly to the line. This is better stuff. 

Better start this half. More determination in the Crusaders eyes.Nice attitude to turn down the three points.

8.25: Back on. Can the Crusaders lift?

Gee, the Blues look solid. 40 Minutes to sort it.

8.13: Not great form the Crusaders but we are keeping in touch.

Blackadder will be reading the riot act.

We've been slack, tired-looking and the Blues so much sharper.

See you on the other side of halftime.

8.11: 20-12 Pressure on the Blues line but no way through.

Not looking likely to breach their goal line yet.

Kickable penalty closes the gap to 8.

Halftime.

8.11: Carter in an easy penalty attempt.

8.10:  Last chance in this half for us but the Blues' vice-like grip is continuing. 

8.09: Carter nails it and the gap is 11.

Blues 20-Crusaders 9

8.07: Penalty to Crusaders. An easy one you would think. Time to draw breath and close that gap.

8.06: Got to admire this play. The Blues are playing with confidence and belief. We are just a little shell-shocked.

Crusaders trailling by two converted tries (14) with five minutes left in the first half.

8.05: Another try to the Blues.

We are getting a lesson at the moment.

8.04: No wait. They go for the lineout.

Oozing confidence.

8.04: Penalty to the Blues. Maybe a bit lucky but we aren't covering defensively either.

This could take the lead out to 10.

8.03: We win a lineout but we need more than that. Too predictable this play.

8.02: Good break at last. Pressure on the Blues but then we lose it again.

Story of this game.

8.01: One converted try away but Crusaders need to lift.

Todd Blackadder will be sweating.

8pm: Whatever Kirwan and Henry are doing, it is working. They are outplaying us. 

7.59: Try to Blues. Too easy. Blues leading 13-6

7.58: A big break by the Blues. Rene Ranger in sizzling form. Pressure.

7.58: We havent really looked like threatening the Blues line in the first 25 minutes.

Very un-Crusaders like.

7.57: Weepu lands it from 45m. Blues 8-Crusaders 6.

This tussle continues.

7.56: Just as we take the lead, we concede a silly penalty.

Blues could hit the front again

7.54: Carter lines up the shot. Yes! Crusaders 6-Blues 5 

7.54: Our first feed into the scrum delivers us some good ball at last.

Big kick down field but the Blues cover it well.

Our defence is up quicker and Read grabs the player and wins the penalty.

Leading by example.

7.52: The Blues needed a strong start -- to make a statement and they are certainly talking the talk. 

7.50: Mini conference happening in the Crusaders camp.

Slow it down, I suggest is the thrust of that.

7.50: Ranger grabs the high ball then loses it.

Blues get it back. They are dominating, no question.

Big gaps being found in our defence. Tightening up really needed.

7.48: Bad blow losing Romano. Geez, is anything going to go our way?

7.48: At last relief courtesy of Tom Taylor with a hefty clearance.

7.47: Great kick from the Blues deep in our half.

Pressure building.

7.46: First decent foray from the backs. But again the Blues hold their line.

Are we trying too hard?

7.45: Spoke too soon. Penalty at the breakdown to the Blues. Crusaders making too many mistakes.

7.44: Bit of a kicking duel in the air but eventually into touch. Crusaders just need to get their hands on the ball.

Good inroads into the Blues half.

7.42:  Conversion unsuccessful from Weepu but take the lead 5-3 after 10 minutes.

Come on Crusaders!

7.42: Gotta say the Blues deserved that five-pointer. They are making the yards, getting acioss the advantage line.

Good reward.

7.41: Try to the Blues.

Blues dominating. So close to the line.

7.40: Messy in the breakdown. Crusaders defending well but Blues get the ball into the scrum deep in Crusaders half.

Tense and testing times early on.

7.39: Blues looking thoughtful when carrying the ball. Making good ground.

7.38: Good push from the Blues in Crusaders country. But solid counter ruck gives it back to the red and blacks but then, as we have done a bit already, we hand it back.

7.36: Blues miss a penalty kick. Penalty at the other end and a chance for Blues to level it up. Sam Whitelock the offender at the ruck.

Piri Weepu, looking a light lighter than last year it must be said, lines it up.

Off the post, controlled by the Crusaders who clear from behind the goal-line.

Lucky escape.

7.34: Penalty to Crusaders. Deep breath, nail 3 points and lets settle down boys. Not really convincing though.

Dan Carter's first kick at goal for 2013 is a good one. Crusaders 3 - Blues 0

7.33: Crusaders get a kickable penalty.

7.33:  So we claim the battle of territory after the first two mins. Both sides nervous me thinks.

7.32: Blues looking strong in the mid-field from the get-go. Crusaders a bit shaky.

Settle down lads I say. Settle.

7.30: And now the Blues get on the field. Both sides look focused as you would expect.

Let's go!

7.29: The boys run out onto the turf for their first crack of the season. Nervous much? I am.

Captain Kieran Read looks happy. Hopefully, he'll still be wearing that grin at the end of the match.

7.24: So this is it.

After having to wait and watch the first two rounds of the Super 15 from the sidelines, The Crusaders play their first match of the season in a matter of minutes.

Some basic questions: How rusty will the boys in red and black be? What impact will the absence of Richie McCaw have? Can the two Sirs of Auckland rugby, Kirwan and Henry, get their charges to put in two strong performances in consecutive weeks?

Sit back, get comfy and let these answers reveal themselves over the next 80-odd minutes.

Kick-off at Eden Park in 10 minutes!

- The Press

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