Auckland Blues 27
Canterbury Crusaders 43
The Blues and Crusaders scored four tries apiece in an exciting top of the table clash at Eden Park in Auckland on Sunday afternoon, but the Canterbury side were too much of a point-scoring powerhouse for Auckland in the end.
The Crusaders led the Blues two tries to one after the first 40 minutes, going into the break ahead 17-8 after tries to centre Jack Goodhue 10 minutes in and hooker Codie Taylor shortly after the half-hour mark.
The Blues opening try was scored by loose forward Blake Gibson who crashed over in the corner on the 20-minute mark after a breathtaking passage of play that lived up to all the hype of this game and more.
The Crusaders looked to be pulling away early in the second half after a penalty saw them push their lead out to 20-8 but the Auckland forwards closed the gap to five with a try to hooker Kurt Eklund.
The men from the south continued their relentless point scoring, however, with Richie Mo'unga adding two back to back penalties for a 29-15 lead with 20 minutes left in the game.
He's been dancing this afternoon and his kicking has been pretty slick too! Mo'unga adds another Pen @crusadersrugby lead 29-15 with 20mins to play... @BluesRugbyTeam #BLUvCRU #Forever pic.twitter.com/lS9SchHNsq— Crusaders (@crusadersrugby) March 21, 2021
But the Blues were far from done, with Kurt Eklund scoring a double for the afternoon diving over off the back of a lineout drive to close the score to 29-20.
However, just when the Crusaders seemed in reach of the Blues, that man Richie Mo'unga undid the Auckland side to run in a try for a 36-20 lead with 10 minutes left.
Just to prove the hype around this game is real, loose forward Hoskins Sotutu burst in for a try to the Blues less than five minutes later, 36-27.
But after the Blues' Ofa Tuungafasi was yellow-carded for a foul in the final moments, the Crusaders finished off Auckland and the game with a try to wing Sevu Reece.
Blues 27 (Blake Gibson, Kurt Eklund 2, Hoskins Sotutu tries; Otere Black 2 con, pen) Crusaders 43 (Jack Goodhue, Codie Taylor, Richie Mo'unga, Sevu Reece tries; Richie Mo'unga 4 con, 5 pen).