The Crusaders have come out trumps in a top-of-the-table Super Rugby Aotearoa clash against the Blues in Christchurch, running out 26-15 winners in a pulsating encounter.
The Blues opened the scoring in the 10th minute when right-winger Mark Telea crashed over in the corner after a period of sustained pressure. Flyhalf Otere Black added a difficult conversion for the visitors to lead 7-0.
The Crusaders worked their way slowly back into the match and two Richie Mo’unga penalties in quick successions saw them cut the lead to 7-6 with eight minutes left in the first half.
Despite a strong Crusaders onslaught in the final minutes of the half, the Blues held onto their lead at half-time.
The second half saw Black and and Mo'unga trade two early penalties to push the score out to 10-9 in favour of the Blues.
The Blues extended their lead in the 55th mintue with Rieko Ioane smashing his way over close to the posts after a quick tap penalty.
Black couldn't convert as the Blues led 15-9.
The Crusader then hit the front through replacement Mitchell Drummond after excellent work by Mo'unga who added a conversion to give the home side a 16-15 lead in the 62nd minute.
Mo'unga extended the Crusaders lead to 19-15 in the 67th minute through another penalty as the Crusaders started to take control of the match.
The Crusader then secured the points with four minutes to go when Will Jordan scythed through the Blues defence to score a converted try as the home side ended up 26-15 winners.
Tries: Mitchell Drummond, Will Jordan
Conversions: Richie Mo'unga (2)
Penalties: Richie Mo’unga (4)
Tries: Mark Telea, Rieko Ioane
Conversions: Otere Black
Penalties: Otere Black
15 David Havili, 14 Sevu Reece, 13 Braydon Ennor, 12 Jack Goodhue, 11 George Bridge, 10 Richie Mo’unga, 9 Bryn Hall, 8 Whetu Douglas, 7 Tom Christie, 6 Tom Sanders, 5 Mitchell Dunshea, 4 Sam Whitelock, 3 Michael Alaalatoa, 2 Codie Taylor (captain), 1 Joe Moody
Substitutes: 16 Andrew Makalio, 17 George Bower, 18 Oliver Jager, 19 Quinten Strange, 20 Sione Havili, 21 Mitchell Drummond, 22 Fetuli Paea, 23 Will Jordan
15 Beauden Barrett, 14 Mark Telea, 13 Rieko Ioane, 12 Harry Plummer, 11 Caleb Clarke, 10 Otere Black, 9 Finlay Christie, 8 Hoskins Sotutu, 7 Dalton Papalii, 6 Akira Ioane, 5 Josh Goodhue, 4 Patrick Tuipulotu (captain), 3 Ofa Tuungafasi, 2 James Parsons, 1 Alex Hodgman
Substitutes: 16 Kurt Eklund, 17 Karl Tu'inukuafe, 18 Sione Mafileo, 19 Aaron Carroll, 20 Blake Gibson, 21 Jonathan Ruru, 22 TJ Faiane, 23 Matt Duffie