Crusaders wing George Bridge scored a hat-trick of tries as his side record a comfortable 54-17 win over the struggling Blues.
The Crusaders’ comprehensive win, which is their 12 consecutive victory, amplified the log leaders impeccable Super Rugby season and has highlighted their status as competition favourites.
The hosts scored eight tries to three, including a hat-trick by wing George Bridge and a brace by Jack Goodhue.
The Crusaders already had the top spot sewn up and were able to score points when it mattered against a Blues side destined to finish second to last on the overall table.
But despite the eight-tries-to-three hiding, Crusaders captain Sam Whitelock was not totally happy.
“Definitely that middle part. We’ll have a good review,” he said referring to the Blues’ two second half tries.
“We gave away a lot of penalties, we didn’t learn from our mistakes and if you give any side a number of opportunities they’re going to score.”
Tries to Jack Goodhue, George Bridge and Seta Tamanivalu saw the Crusaders lead 19-5 at the break with the Blues sole points coming from a Melani Nanai try.
Bridge was to score two more tries in the second half to go equal top of the try scoring list with 14 for the season.
Although the Blues had parity with possession they lacked the Crusaders ability to recycle quick ball which nullified their attempts to build momentum until midway through the second spell when they bounced back with two tries.
One was a penalty try from a rare dominant scrum, and Nanai followed with his second to close the gap to 26-17.
That was enough for the Crusaders to put the foot down again which saw Bridge score twice more with a try each to Whitelock and Bryn Hall.
Tries: Goodhue 2, Bridge 3, Tamanivalu, Whitelock, Hall
Cons: Mo’unga 4, Hunt 3
For the Blues:
Tries: Nanai 2, Penalty Try,
Con: Penalty try does not require a conversion
Crusaders: 15 Israel Dagg, 14 Seta Tamanivalu, 13 Jack Goodhue, 12 Ryan Crotty, 11 George Bridge, 10 Richie Mo’unga, 9 Mitchell Drummond, 8 Kieran Read, 7 Matt Todd, 6 Jordan Taufua, 5 Samuel Whitelock (captain), 4 Quinten Strange, 3 Michael Alaalatoa, 2 Andrew Makalio, 1 Tim Perry.
Replacements: 16 Sam Anderson-Heather, 17 Wyatt Crockett, 18 Donald Brighouse, 19 Luke Romano, 20 Pete Samu, 21 Bryn Hall, 22 Mitchell Hunt, 23 Manasa Mataele.
Blues: 15 Matt Duffie, 14 Melani Nanai, 13 Michael Collins, 12 Rieko Ioane, 11 Caleb Clarke, 10 Stephen Perofeta, 9 Augustine Pulu (captain), 8 Akira Ioane, 7 Blake Gibson, 6 Jerome Kaino, 5 Ben Nee-Nee, 4 Gerard Cowley-Tuioti, 3 Ofa Tu’ungafasi, 2 Matt Moulds, 1 Alex Hodgman.
Replacements: 16 Ross Wright, 17 Pauliasi Manu, 18 Sione Mafileo, 19 Jacob Pierce, 20 Murphy Taramai, 21 Sam Nock, 22 Bryn Gatland, 23 Tamati Tua.
Referee: Federico Anselmi (Argentina)
Assistant referees: Jamie Nutbrown (New Zealand), Mike Fraser (New Zealand)
TMO: Shane McDermott (New Zealand)