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Saracens new flyhalf orchestrates incredible victory for Crusaders over the Blues

BY Jack Tunney  ·  Saturday May 25, 2024

The Crusaders showed incredible resilience to beat their old rivals 29 – 27 in a topsy turvy match at Christchurch’s Apollo Projects Stadium today. The Blues, who still remain top of the Super Rugby Pacific table, found themselves facing a fired up Crusaders side that had not won since their 39 – 0 victory over the Melbourne Rebels back in April.

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This time around, the victory didn’t come easy for a Crusaders side struggling with an unnaturally poor season. In fact, the red and black side had to dig deep to find the resilience that’s won them so many championships before, in a tight fought contest against their Auckland challengers.

The match itself threatened to get away from the home side early doors, with the Blues taking a comprehensive lead before half time thanks to two tries from giant prop Ofa Tu’ungafasi – cancelling out flanker Ethan Blackadder’s early effort for the Crusaders.

They say the best time to score is right before halftime, so that’s exactly what Chay Fihaki did as he collected from a quick tap penalty from captain Codie Taylor to step back inside and touch down.

Half time: Crusaders 12 – 15 Blues

The second half didn’t start any better for a side needing victory to keep themselves in with a chance of making the playoffs. Camping on the Crusaders line, talented Blues number 8 Hoskins Sotutu read the blitz defence as he floated a pinpoint pass out to winger AJ Lam for his first of the day.

When it appeared as though the visitors were set to run away with their expected victory, the Crusaders finally kicked into gear. Just a few short minutes later, Fergus Burke, despite having a nightmare day from the tee, delivered the most wonderful cross-field kick to Christian Lio-Willie to give the home crowd something to cheer.

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The Crusaders tails were suddenly up, and with the crowd behind them there were suddenly possibilities in the air. Up stepped Saracens new signing Fergus Burke, as he broke the line once again with a sublime dummy, before he supplied the ball to Chay Fihaki to offload the final pass for scrum half Noah Hotham, taking the lead as the match entered the final stages.

Having taken on the kicking duties, Chay Fihaki took the Crusaders further ahead with the extra two points, before converting a penalty just minutes later.

With the game hanging in the balance with just ten minutes remaining, the Blues struck back with a fine finish in the corner as AJ Lam picked up his second. There was to be no final bash for the Blues, however, with the conversion missed and the Crusaders able to hold on for the final ten, it was a vital victory for a side desperate to play some playoff rugby.


Final Score: Crusaders 29 – 27 Blues

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