Crusaders batter Blues

The Crusaders played like seven-time champions to demolish the Blues 23-3 in Christchurch.

The hosts led 13-3 at halftime.

It represented a dramatic turnaround from the Blues five tries to nil early season success against the Crusaders in Auckland.

The Crusaders have notoriously been slow campaign starters and this season is proving no different. The side that hammered the Blues is playing differently to the disinterested lot of two months ago. The style has also reverted from the ineffective side to side attack to a more direct and aggressive approach.

The All Blacks wider training group gathers on Sunday and the senior All Blacks made a statement to the many would be All Blacks in the squad with a dominant display.

All Blacks captain Kieran Read was imposing in his first match back in seven weeks, locks Sam Whitelock and Luke Romano were massive and Owen Franks showed his best form of the year.

Dan Carter was a monster in defence on a night when Tom Taylor did all the goalkicking.

The Blues enjoyed a strong opening quarter but failed to translate this into points and once Taylor put the Crusaders ahead with a penalty the hosts never relinquished their hold on the game.

It was a lesson to the younger Blues players and their back three, in particular, now have an experience of going to Christchurch and getting swamped in the tackle.

The Crusaders are showing championship-winning form at the same time as they did last year, but coach Todd Blackadder will be cautious about a repeat of 2012 when his form players took the form into the Test month but returned fatigued and failed to make Super Rugby’s final.

Crusaders –
Tries: Ryan Crotty, Owen Franks. Conversions: Tom Taylor (2). Penalties: Taylor (3).
Blues – Penalty: Chris Noakes.