Match Centre: Crusaders 23-27 Blues

Beauden Barrett was part of the winning Blues side
Beauden Barrett was part of the winning Blues side

Crusaders 23-27 Blues, Orangetheory Stadium

Blues managed to overcome a double from Sevu Reece as they edged out Crusaders 27-23 in the 9th round of the Super Rugby Pacific at Orangetheory Stadium on Friday.

Stephen Perofeta started the proceedings with a 9th minute penalty goal for Blues before Crusaders responded back strong with Will Jordan combining with Reece for the opening try in the 17th minute. Richie Mo'unga kicked the conversion to make it 7-3.

The visitors seized the lead back as Beauden Barrett breached the defence of Crusaders allowing Finlay Christie to touchdown in the 22nd minute and Dalton Papalii followed the suit with a crossover in the 33rd minute.

Perofeta kicked both the conversions as Blues had a 7-17 lead as Crusaders lost Codie Taylor to sin-bin.

Mo'unga with an early penalty goal early in the second half helped Crusaders off the block but they conceded two-man advantage to Blues after skipper Scott Barrett was sent-off in the 46th minute.

With the numerical advantage on their side, Blues got their third try in the 47th minute when Kurt Eklund dived at the back of a line out drive and Barrett improved it making it 10-24.

The home side clawed their way back into the game as Reece dotted down after Mo'unga created a 50/22 in the 54th minute and from the lineout a long pass from Argentina back-rower Pablo Matera. Mo'unga missed the conversion but made amends with a penalty goal in the 62nd minute making it 18-24.

A Barrett penalty goal in the 65th minute stretched Blues' lead to nine points which proved enough despite Reece scoring his second try in the 71st minute.

Blues now have seven wins from eight games as they are at the top of the table while Crusaders have slipped to fourth place after losing their second match.

Team line up:

Crusaders: 15 Will Jordan, 14 Sevu Reece, 13 Braydon Ennor 12 David Havili, 11 Leicester Fainga’anuku, 10 Richie Mo’unga, 9 Bryn Hall, 8 Cullen Grace, 7 Tom Christie, 6 Ethan Blackadder, 5 Zach Gallagher, 4 Scott Barrett, 3 Oli Jager, 2 Codie Taylor, 1 Joe Moody.

Reserves: 16 Ricky Jackson, 17 George Bower, 18 Fletcher Newell, 19 Dom Gardiner, 20 Pablo Matera, 21 Mitchell Drummond, 22 Fergus Burke, 23 George Bridge

Blues: 15 Stephen Perofeta, 14 AJ Lam, 13 Rieko Ioane 12 Bryce Heem, 11 Mark Telea, 10 Beauden Barrett, 9 Finlay Christie, 8 Hoskins Sotutu 7 Dalton Papalii, 6 Tom Robinson, 5 Josh Goodhue 4 Luke Romano, 3 Ofa Tuungafasi, 2 Kurt Eklund, 1 Alex Hodgman.

Reserves: 16 Ricky Riccitelli, 17 Jordan Lay 18 Nepo Laulala, 19 James Tucker, 20 Adrian Choat, 21 Taufa Funaki, 22 Roger Tuivasa-Sheck, 23 Zarn Sullivan