Blues bash Saders

Rene Ranger rocked in the Blues fabulous win against the Crusaders.

The Blues scored five unanswered tries in a 34-15 win and Ranger was influential in attack and especially in defence.

The hosts, who scored a bonus-point win against the Hurricanes in Wellington a week ago, had the bonus point for four tries within the hour.

The new coaching staff of John Kirwan, Mick Byrne and Graeme Henry have made an immediate impact and turned a decade of home team Blues into a night of bliss.

The Blues led 20-12 at halftime and Dan Carter reduced the deficit to five points early in the second half, but that was the last of the Crusaders threat as the Blues combined brutal defence with clinical finishing to dominate the match and the result.

Carter’s goalkicking and Matt Todd’s tireless efforts at the breakdown were the only positives for the visitors, who played like a team who hadn’t had a competitive match for some time. This was the Crusaders tournament opener and they were shocking.

Israel Dagg, playing on the wing, had a night to forget and so did most of his teammates as the Blues physicality in defence forced mistake after mistake. The Crusaders made 12 handling errors compared to the four of the Blues.

The home team promised to give it a full crack on attack, as they did against the Canes a week ago, but it has been their desire on defence that has defined the two bonus-point wins in the last fortnight.

Ali Williams was inspirational as captain, Chris Noakes was composed at flyhalf, Ranger was ruthless in everything he did and the back three were lethal with ball in hand.

The Crusaders were too lateral on attack, the running lines of the support runner was poor and physically they were never in the contest in the collisions.

Dagg controversially was denied a try by a TMO ruling that would have made the score 27-20 with 10 minutes to go but the Blues immediately scored a seven pointer from 80 metres as the scoreboard reflected the on-field superiority of the hosts.

Piri Weepu, good in most aspects, succeeded with only two from six strikes, which gives an indication of just how messy it got for the Crusaders. Had Weepu been more accurate the scoreline could have been closer to 50 than 30.

By Mark Keohane