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Blues v Crusaders, result, video, Scott Barrett red card


This article originally appeared on Stuff and is reproduced with permission

They did it. The Blues won their first scalp in Christchurch in almost two decades.

One night Crusaders captain Scott Barrett was shown a red card, the Blues’ 27-23 win on Friday night not only buried a painful Garden City losing streak; he highlighted their championship titles.

Since King Carlos and Rupeni Caucaunibuca went wild at Lancaster Park in 2004, the Auckland-based side have not triumphed in Christchurch.

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But the Blues ended their 18-year drought, cashing in after Barrett was sent off early in the second half for hitting former Crusader Alex Hodgman with a shoulder.

It reduced the hosts to 13 men, following David Havili’s yellow card at the end of the first half, and Blues hooker Kurt Eklund quickly dived for his sixth try of the season.

Until 24-10, Blues fans scattered around Orangetheory Stadium dared to believe it was their night.

But the Crusaders were not done. Sevu Reece rushed on the outside, and when Richie Mo’unga overturned a penalty they cut the deficit to 24-18 after 60 minutes, taking them within striking distance five minutes before they were back in full force.

Reece’s second with 10 minutes left, following a penalty from Beauden Barrett, brought the Crusaders within four, before the Crusaders threw everything at them in the closing minutes.

The Blues needed two stands on the goal line, barely denying loose striker Dominic Gardiner and forcing an error after the whistle to go home.

Their arms went up happily. The heavyweight contest was over. So did their 14-game losing streak against the Crusaders.

They say defense wins championships, and judging by the way the Blues have defended, they have the ingredients this year.

Cowardly attackers Dalton Papali’i, Hoskins Sotutu and Tom Robinson were immense, hunting like a pack of bloodthirsty hyenas.

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Jordan Bag Openers for Crusaders

Center Rieko Ioane was also superb, highlighted by the key tackle he made in the first half on the dangerous Will Jordan, who would have gassed most players when he spotted a gap on a counterattack .

The Blues’ only complaint after the first half would have been that they were no more than 17-7 up.

After all, Stephen Perofeta missed two shots on goal within reach of the sticks, including one after the half-time whistle.

It would have been a significant body blow, given that the Crusaders’ Havili had just been shown a yellow card for playing the ball across the bridge after a quick-thinking Perofeta took a tap and opened them up.

The big moment

Look no further than when referee Mike Fraser showed Barrett a red card early in the second half.

The Crusaders had just come within seven points and were close to recovering Havili after his spell in the trash.

Barrett must have felt sick watching Eklund cross the line moments after taking his seat.

Ranking of matches

9/10. Lots of essays, drama, maps, scintillating touches from All Black Beauden Barrett and Richie Mo’unga, and almost a superb comeback.

It was exactly the type of game one would expect between two heavyweights. They will surely end up in the play-offs.

The big picture

The Super Rugby crowns are not won in mid-April, but the Blues will relish this victory, and so they should.

They finally have one against the Crusaders for the first time since 2014, and are well placed, at 7-1, going into Australian games.

MVP

What a huge performance from Blues captain Dalton Papali’i, and not just because he knocked down Mo’unga and scored a superb try in the first half.

His defense, including a save try in the final minutes, was outstanding. He had 21 tackles.

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