Crusaders bludgeon Blues

 Rugby Player diving to score a try

George Bridge bagged a hat-trick as the Crusaders ambled to a 54-17 win against the Blues at the AMI Stadium in Christchurch on Saturday. 

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The final round result means Sam Whitelock’s side head into the playoffs on a 12-match winning run.
Having topped the overall standings, the Cantabrian's had already established a date with the eighth-ranked seed in next week’s Semi-final Qualifier regardless of the result. For the Blues, who finished fourteenth, this marked their final involvement in 2018.

With the knockouts in mind, Scott Robertson had made six personnel changes for the hosts, which included resting the industrious Scott Barrett and a return to action for Israel Dagg.

The Crusaders’ phase play was at its imperious best throughout, and, despite the Blues’ enjoying 66% of the territory in the first-half, scored tries through Jack Goodhue and George Bridge.

What little momentum the Aucklanders achieved was quickly snuffed out by a more clinical and alert Crusaders side, but they were fortunate to narrow the deficit through Melani Nanai, when the winger intercepted a loose Dagg-pass to sprint away.

Crucially, though, a Seta Tamanivalu-try on the halftime hooter ensured the hosts went into the shed leading by 19-5.

The men in red threatened to run away with it when Goodhue went over for his second soon after the break, but the Blues hit back when an incredible shove at scrum time earned them a penalty try before Nanai grabbed his brace to make it 26-17.

The Crusaders again underlined their lethal ability from the first-phase when Bridge finished off a play that originated from a Saders’ lineout on the halfway and which went through several pairs of hands before culminating in the corner, effectively ending the contest.

Bridge would go on to complete his hattrick, while further tries to Whitelock and Bryn Hall late on ensured the defending champions sauntered to a comfortable victory.

They will next week host either the Rebels or the Sharks depending on the result of the latter’s match against the Jaguares at Jonsson Kings Park later in the day.

Crusaders: 15 Israel Dagg, 14 Seta Tamanivalu, 13 Jack Goodhue, 12 Ryan Crotty, 11 George Bridge, 10 Richie Mo’unga, 9 Mitchell Drummond, 8 Kieran Read, 7 Matt Todd, 6 Jordan Taufua, 5 Sam Whitelock (c), 4 Quinten Strange, 3 Michael Alaalatoa, 2 Andrew Makalio, 1 Tim Perry
Replacements: 16 Sam Anderson-Heather, 17 Wyatt Crockett, 18 Donald Brighouse, 19 Luke Romano, 20 Pete Samu, 21 Bryn Hall, 22 Mitchell Hunt, 23 Manasa Mataele

Blues: 15 Matt Duffie, 14 Melani Nanai, 13 Michael Collins, 12 Rieko Ioane, 11 Caleb Clarke, 10 Stephen Perofeta, 9 Augustine Pulu (c), 8 Akira Ioane, 7 Blake Gibson, 6 Jerome Kaino, 5 Ben Nee-Nee, 4 Gerard Cowley-Tuioti, 3 Ofa Tuungafasi, 2 Matt Moulds, 1 Alex Hodgman
Replacements: 16 Ross Wright, 17 Pauliasi Manu, 18 Sione Mafileo, 19 Jacob Pierce, 20 Murphy Taramai, 21 Sam Nock, 22 Bryn Gatland, 23 Tamati Tua


Tries: Goodhue (2), Bridge (3), Tamanivalu, Whitelock, Hall
Cons: Mo’unga (4), Hunt (3)

Tries: Nanai (2), (penalty)
Cons: Perofeta

Written by Shaun Goosen for Hollywoodbets

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