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It's cloudy and cool in Auckland, with a temperature around 23 degrees making it a perfect evening for rugby. Expect an open, exciting and high scoring game.
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In the 34 meetings between the sides, the Blues have won 11 and the Crusaders have won 23. The Crusaders have won the last four matches between the sides in Auckland, with the Blues winless since 2014.
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Today's referee is Paul Williams, assisted by Brendon Pickerill and Angus Mabey, with Shane McDermott on TMO duty.
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The Crusaders suffered a shock 25-15 loss against the Chiefs last week, and have made 3 changes to that side. Cullen Grace replaces Whetu Douglas for his first start Crusaders start, while Bryn Hall takes the halfback jersey in place of Mitch Drummond. The final change sees Richie Mounga coming in at fly half, replacing Will Jordan, with Havili returning to the fullback role.
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Following a comprehensive 12-32 win in testing conditions against the Waratahs last weekend, the Blues have made just two changes to their starting side. Both changes are in the front row, where All Blacks Tuungafasi and Parsons return in place of Mafileo and Eklund.
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CRUSADERS STARTING XV: 15 David Havili, 14 Sevu Reece, 13 Braydon Ennor, 12 Jack Goodhue, 11 George Bridge, 10 Richie Mo’unga, 9 Bryn Hall, 8 Tom Sanders, 7 Tom Christie, 6 Cullen Grace, 5 Mitchell Dunshea, 4 Scott Barrett (C), 3 Oliver Jager, 2 Codie Taylor, 1 Joe Moody. RESERVES: 16 Andrew Makalio, 17 George Bower, 18 Michael Alaalatoa, 19 Luke Romano, 20 Sione Havili, 21 Mitchell Drummond, 22 Brett Cameron, 23 Will Jordan
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BLUES STARTING XV: 15 Matt Duffie, 14 Jordan Hyland, 13 Joe Marchant, 12 TJ Faiane, 11 Mark Telea, 10 Stephen Perofeta, 9 Jonathan Ruru, 8 Hoskins Sotutu, 7 Blake Gibson, 6 Dalton Papali’i, 5 Josh Goodhue, 4 Patrick Tuipulotu (C), 3 Ofa Tuungafasi, 2 James Parsons, 1 Karl Tu’inukuafe. RESERVES: 16 Kurt Eklund, 17 Ezekiel Lindenmuth, 18 Sione Mafileo, 19 Tom Robinson, 20 Tony Lamborn, 21 Sam Nock, 22 Harry Plummer, 23 Emoni Narawa
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Hello and welcome to our live coverage of today's Super Rugby Round 3 clash between the Blues and the Crusaders at Eden Park in Auckland.
1'
We are underway in this Valentine's Day clash as Richie Mounga launches a short kick off which is well fielded by Matt Duffie.
3'
The Crusaders take a quick lineout on halfway and dink a kick which trickles out inside the Blues 22.
4'
The clearance kick is shanked so the Crusaders have a lineout on the 22.
6'
TRY! BLUES! TUIPULOTU! 5-0. The Blues get an intercept and then have the freedom to play under advantage. Perofeta dinks a kick over the defence and Bridge fumbles it with an awful bounce. The ball is carried up to the 22, where Perofeta once again gets involved and slices through to take it close to the line. The ball is recycled quickly and the captain, Patrick Tuipulotu, dives over for the try!
8'
It's not the hardest kick first up for Perofeta but he can't convert. Praise goes to him for his solo role in creating that try.
9'
Oli Jager is receiving medical treatment for a head knock. It looks quite devastating and he is taken off for Alaalatoa for the rest of the match.
10'
Crusaders have a lineout just outside the Blues 22. A couple of promising phases for the Saders, with quick hands through a couple of phases. Mounga looks to take it back blindside and gets isolated, as Hoskins Sotutu forces a penalty for holding on.
11'
Tuungafasi is penalised for hands in the ruck. Crusaders kick to touch and find it about 15 metres from the Blues line.
12'
The Crusaders look to set a maul but it's well defended and turned over.
14'
The Crusaders give the Blues an easy exit by giving away a soft penalty for kicking the ball through the ruck.
16'
Perofeta goes to the air from just outside his 22 and sees his ball just drift into touch on the full, as it lands on the line. Big opportunity for the Crusaders now.
17'
Mounga looks to dink it over the defence. It's not the best kick, but a retreating Telea knocks it on and into the hands of Joe Marchant. The Englishman was in an offside position so the Crusaders have a penalty in front, which they've opted to kick at goal.
19'
PENALTY! CRUSADERS! HAVILI! 5-3. David Havili still has the kicking duties and he makes no mistake from out in front.
20'
A few strong tackles flying in from the Blues defence, with the pressure eventually forcing a knock on at the base by Bryn Hall at halfway.
22'
BOOMFA! Tuungafasi absolutely clatters Christie. The Blues pile in but give away a penalty, although the Mounga misses touch so the Blues will run it back.
24'
The Crusaders get a turnover and look to the air. Telea knocks it on and Sotutu picks it up in front, penalised for offside. Mounga kicks to the corner and finds it 6 metres out.
25'
TRY! CRUSADERS! BRIDGE! 5-8. The Crusaders run a set move to spread it wide quickly. Goodhue gets it under pressure but throws a sumptuous back of the hand offload to Bridge, who canters over for the try!
27'
Havili is unable to convert from the corner.
28'
A mistake from the kick off, which drifts straight into touch.
29'
Mounga finds himself in space off the back of the scrum and runs it all the way up to the 22. They look to move it quickly but too quickly for Dunshea, who knocks an inside ball on.
30'
Karl Tu’inukuafe is penalised for hinging and the Crusaders get a gift. Havili will have a shot at goal.
32'
PENALTY! CRUSADERS! HAVILI! 5-11. The fullback slots this penalty attempt to extend the Crusaders lead.
35'
Brilliant play from the Blues who carry it up to the 22. Sevu Reece rips the ball and kicks up field into space. It's Codie Taylor putting pressure on with the chase but he then gives away a penalty for going off his feet. Blues kick to halfway.
36'
Havili fields an aimless kick from Perofeta, beating a couple of defenders before offloading to Reece. The big winger charges forward in acres of space and has plenty of support but he doesn't get the pass away. The Crusaders have numbers to burn out wide but can't recycle quickly enough. They look to a cross kick which is caught and marked easily.
39'
The Blues have a scrum in their own half which they're dominant from and win a penalty.
40'
HALF TIME. BLUES 5 - 11 CRUSADERS. The home side will be disappointed to find themselves behind at the break. They've dominated possession but have mainly played with it in their own half. It'll be an interesting second half, with both sides still in it.
41'
Harry Plummer has replaced Matt Duffie at half time, and he gets the second half underway, poking a kick toward the Crusaders 22.
42'
PENALTY! BLUES! PLUMMER! 8-11. The Crusaders are penalised for offside, giving Plummer a chance to have a shot at goal straight away. It's a good one, and closes the gap up to 3.
45'
TRY! CRUSADERS! MOUNGA! 8-16. Vintage Crusaders! The whole team got involved here, with some silky hands and support aplenty. It looked ominous and didn't take long for Richie Mounga to slice through, like a hot knife through butter, to score the try under the sticks!
46'
CONVERSION! CRUSADERS! HAVILI! 8-18.
48'
Tom Sanders is penalised for a side entry near halfway. Big reprieve for the Blues who looked in stitches again. Touch found inside the Crusaders 22.
49'
The Blues try a neat move at the front of the lineout but Tom Robinson runs out of space, and his offload was thrown under pressure into touch.
50'
Dalton Papali'i is penalised for playing the ball on the ground. Mounga kicks for touch toward halfway.
51'
Ruru gets the ball in his own 22 and boots into touch near halfway.
52'
The Blues get the ball back and look threatening in broken play. Perofeta puts a grubber through for Telea to chase but it just beats him into touch.
55'
Crusaders continue to disrupt the Blues lineout. They've stolen it once again near halfway.
56'
It's a scrum penalty against Tu'inukuafe. Crusaders find touch at the Blues 22.
58'
TRY! CRUSADERS! GOODHUE! 8-23. A bit of magic from the man with the mullet! He gets the ball from the back of a ruck and puts a little dink toward Mounga, who slaps it up in the air and regathers with enough presence to pass it back inside to Goodhue who gets the meat pie!
59'
CONVERSION! CRUSADERS! HAVILI! 8-25. No problem from the conversion in front of the posts.
60'
The Blues look to the air once more but this time manage to retain the ball. They carry it into the 22 with interest before Cullen Grace gives away a blatant penalty for hands in the ruck. Blues have opted to scrum in centre field.
63'
The scrum was well read by the Crusaders as they wrap Sotutu up at the back. Christie then gives away another penalty, which the Blues kick to the corner this time.
65'
A monstrous hit from Grace! The ball squirts out of the hands of Plummer who knocks it on.
68'
Crusaders have a scrum just outside their 22.
70'
A collapsed maul from the lineout means gives the Blues the turnover they were looking for on halfway.
72'
Front foot ball for the Blues who begin to get a few phases going. The Crusaders defence is resilient, and under pressure, Marchant seals off the ruck and is penalised.
73'
Tuipulotu intercepts the ball from the Crusaders lineout and rampages up to halfway, but he looks for the miracle offload which is knocked on.
74'
It looked like a magical try from the Crusaders, who switched the play blindside from the scrum. Bridge carries it down the wing before dinking a kick over which Will Jordan collects and dots down. TMO has another look and finds that Jordan was in front of the kicker so the try is erased.
75'
For the fifth time today, the Blues have had their lineout stolen. An inaccurate kick from Mounga floats into touch giving possession back to the Blues.
77'
The Blues get it to around 5 metres from the line but then disappointingly knock it on.
78'
Dominant from the Crusaders who get a scrum penalty.
79'
The Blues turn the ball over on halfway and go in search of a consolation try.
81'
A few penalties in a row after the hooter and the Blues now find themselves with a lineout, 8 metres from the Crusaders line.
83'
FULL TIME. BLUES 8 - 25 CRUSADERS. The reigning champions get the job done at Eden Park with a clinical second half performance, keeping the Blues to just 3 points.
Blues
Crusaders
1
Tries
3
5' Patrick Tuipulotu
24' George Bridge
44' Richie Mo''unga
57' Jack Goodhue
0
Conversions
2
44' David Havili
57' David Havili
1
Penalties
2
41' Harry Plummer
17' David Havili
31' David Havili
0
Drop Goals
0
0
Yellow Cards
0
0
Red Cards
0
15
Squad
15
Karl Tu'inukuafe
James Parsons
Ofa Tuungafasi
Patrick Tuipulotu
Joshua Goodhue
Dalton Papali'i
Blake Gibson
Hoskins Sotutu
Jonathan Ruru
Stephen Perofeta
Mark Telea
TJ Faiane
Joe Marchant
Jordan Hyland
Matt Duffie
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
10
11
12
13
14
15
Joe Moody
Codie Taylor
Oli Jager
Scott Barrett
Mitchell Dunshea
Cullen Grace
Tom Christie
Tom Sanders
Bryn Hall
Richie Mo'unga
George Bridge
Jack Goodhue
Braydon Ennor
Sevu Reece
David Havili
8
Reserves
8
Kurt Eklund
Ezekiel Lindenmuth
Sione Mafileo
Tom Robinson
Tony Lamborn
Sam Nock
Harry Plummer
Emoni Narawa
16
17
18
19
20
21
22
23
Andrew Makalio
George Bower
Michael Alaalatoa
Luke Romano
Sione Havili
Mitchell Drummond
Brett Cameron
Will Jordan