Crusaders not out of it yet

The Crusaders' season still has a pulse - albeit a very faint one.

A win over their old rivals the Blues 29-27 in Christchurch has kept their slim hopes of a play-off spot a reality.

So often unable to land the killer blow in 2024, the Super Rugby Pacific defending champions showed great composure to survive, with Noah Hotham scoring the decisive try.

He told Sky Sport on Saturday night they had implemented the lessons learnt from past defeats.

"It means so much, we haven't put in the performances we have wanted and [are] very grateful for the loyal fans."

Skipper Codie Taylor said a lunch with former Crusader legends earlier in the week inspired the performance.

"So glad we could get a result for them. It's been there, we just haven't capitalised on opportunities in past games, so it's huge for us, we knew what we were up against and the boys dug in deep, we have a wee chance."

Noah Hotham (left) celebrates with Sevu Reece, Codie Taylor and Dallas McLeod after scoring a...
Noah Hotham (left) celebrates with Sevu Reece, Codie Taylor and Dallas McLeod after scoring a crucial try for the Crusaders, clinching a win against the Blues. Photo: Getty Images

The Christchurch hoodoo continues for the Blues, though the bonus point takes them back to the top of the table.

Captain Patrick Tuipolotu said the loss was a hard one to swallow.

"Very tough, we were confident going into that second half, especially with momentum. But it was the ill-discipline. We spoke about that last week. So this is very disappointing for us."

It is a challenging run home for the Blues, who meet the Chiefs next weekend.

"With this block of games, it was going to be tough and the Chiefs are coming off a tough loss so that will be another challenge in itself," Tuipolotu said.

Harry Plummer put first points on the board through the boot for the Blues before the returning Crusader Ethan Blackadder burrowed his way to the line for the opening try.

The Blues hit back quickly through Ofa Tuʻungafasi he brutalised his way over the line from close range.

The All Black prop scored another try courtesy of a slick kick return from Stephen Perofeta, Tuʻungafasi ranging wide and charging through the final tackle attempt.

Just before the break the Crusaders were in again thanks to Chay Fihaki as Codie Taylor took a quick tap and passed it wide out to his unmarked winger to score in the corner.

In the second half and, following 10 phases on attack, Perofeta knocked the ball down with the Crusaders looking likely and referee James Doleman sent him to the sideline for 10.

It didn't cost them much though, as AJ Lam bagged the firsts of his brace, taking long pass from Sotutu to walk over untouched for the Blues.

The hosts struck back in style shortly after, Christian Lio-Willie pouching a pinpoint cross-kick from Fergus Burke.

They would then take the lead off the back of some beautiful interplay from Burke and Fihaki, with Hotham sliding in under the ticks.

But the Blues weren't done, and under advantage, threw it wide to Lam who showed great strength to get over and set up a blockbuster finish.

However, the Crusaders showed the famous grit of past sides to claim the win.


Crusaders 29 (Blackadder, Fihaki, Lio-Willie, Hotham, tries, Burke 1 con, Fihaki 1 pen, 2 cons)

Blues 27 (Tuʻungafasi 2, Lam 2, tries, Plummer, 2 cons, 1 pen)