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Super Rugby: Crusaders beat Blues in Christchurch
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Crusaders claimed a commanding 23-3 victory over Blues in Saturday's Super Rugby derby clash at a wet AMI Stadium.
The hosts were struck by a blow before kick-off when Corey Flynn pulled out with a hamstring injury, which meant Ben Funnell got a start.
While the scoreline remained deadlocked until 23 minutes, it was not lacking in entertainment value as Luke Romano and Rene Ranger ran well.
The Crusaders did have an opportunity to open matters on 10 minutes but full-back Tom Taylor, again preferred to All Black Israel Dagg, was wayward in the rain.
He did make amends though for that aforementioned effort after veteran Ali Williams had offended via side entry at ruck time.
Todd Blackadder's men would not have to wait long for their next points too as Chris Noakes was charged down in his own 22 by Ryan Crotty, who went over. Taylor's extras further extended the lead to 10 points as the Blues suddenly found themselves adrift.
Noakes cut that lead down to seven soon after following a no-arms tackle from Romano.
In truth that 10-3 scoreline would have been a fair reflection of how the first-half played out at AMI Stadium, but the opening 40 minutes ended with drama when Zac Guildford's pass to Romano on the left wing was deliberately slapped down by Culum Retallick.
That handed Taylor three points and the offending Blues second-row a 10 minute spell in the sin-bin.
The Crusaders returned for the second-half in good form and were in for their second try on 48 minutes when Owen Franks barged over on the back of a maul. Taylor's conversion and then a further penalty seven minutes later extended matters to 23-3.
And that was how things stayed until the final whistle as, despite Frank Halai going close on the right wing, the Crusaders kept their try-line uncrossed in an authoritative performance.
Victory leaves the outfit from Christchurch six points off the Chiefs, who they face next Friday.