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    Crusaders pip Blues in opener

    2012-02-24 10:15
    Auckland - Blues' new recruit Piri Weepu missed a potential match-winning drop goal after the final whistle and the Crusaders held on to beat the home side 19-18 in their Super Rugby clash at Eden Park on Friday.

    Four months after New Zealand captain Richie McCaw lifted the Webb Ellis trophy on the same ground, 13 World Cup winning All Blacks were included in the squads for the opening game of the 2012 Super Rugby competition.

    Despite the numerous World Cup winners on show the match was punctuated by sloppy handling, poor tackling and a shaky Blues lineout, though it still provided sweeping movements from both sides that brought the crowd of more than 30 000 to full voice.

    "We were pretty lucky to get away with it," Crusaders captain Kieran Read said. "There was real intensity out there and for a first hit out, it was really outstanding.

    "We managed to put a bit of pressure down their end of the field which got us a few penalties and that's great."

    The Crusaders' forwards slowly ground down the Blues' pack and kept them in the Auckland half for much of the second spell until the final minute when Weepu's drop goal attempt was partially charged and fluttered wide.

    Crusaders rookie flyhalf Tyler Bleyendaal, who stepped into the gap left by injured All Blacks pivot Dan Carter, looked comfortable with the step up from provincial rugby and slotted 14 points by converting Robbie Fruean's first half try and addding four penalties.

    Blues loose forward Chris Lowrey and winger David Raikuna scored early tries while flyhalf Michael Hobbs kicked two penalties and a conversion.

    "Games like this between the Blues and Crusaders come down to inches and that's what happened," Blues captain Keven Mealamu said.

    "I think we scrambled well ... but our discipline could have been better and it was typical Crusaders rugby, just relentless pressure."

    The 2012 Super Rugby competition stretches into August with a three-week break for internationals in June.


    Crusaders - Tries: Robbie Fruean; Conversions: Tyler Bleyendaal; Penalties: Bleyendaal (4).

    Blues - Tries: Chris Lowrey, David Raikuna; Conversions: Michael Hobbs; Penalties: Hobbs (2).


    15. Isaia Toeava, 14. David Raikuna, 13. Rene Ranger, 12. Benson Stanley, 11. Rudi Wulf, 10. Michael Hobbs, 9. Alby Mathewson, 8. Jerome Kaino, 7. Daniel Braid, 6. Chris Lowrey, 5. Ali Williams, 4. Anthony Boric, 3. Charlie Faumuina, 2. Keven Mealamu (captain), 1. Tom McCartney.

    Substitutes: 16. Pauliasi Manu, 17. Tevita Mailau, 18. Brad Mika, 19. Luke Braid, 20. Piri Weepu, 21. Hadleigh Parkes, 22. Sherwin Lee Stowers.

    15. Tom Marshall, 14. Sean Maitland, 13. Robert Fruean, 12. Ryan Crotty, 11. Israel Dagg, 10. Tyler Bleyendaal, 9. Andy Ellis, 8. Kieran Read (captain), 7. Matt Todd, 6. George Whitelock, 5. Sam Whitelock, 4. Tom Donnelly, 3. Ben Franks, 2. Quentin MacDonald, 1. Wyatt Crockett

    Substitutes: 16. Corey Flynn, 17. Owen Franks, 18. Luke Romano, 19. Luke Whitelock, 20. Willi Heinz, 21. Patrick Osborne, 22. Adam Whitelock.
    Read More On:  super 15

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