Following on from the brief analysis of the Australian conference, I wanted to inspect the trans-Tasman rivals and see how the New Zealand conference had fared in the off-season too.
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Crusaders vs Blues
Super Rugby, 14 July, 2018
|Fulltime - Crusaders 54, Blues 17|
|Referee: Federico Anselmi|
|Touch judges: Jamie Nutbrown & Michael Fraser|
|TMO: Shane McDermot|
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The Crusaders once again showed off their strength on Saturday with a dominant victory over the Blues.
The Crusaders will look to continue building their impressive form line ahead of the Super Rugby finals when they take on the Blues in the final round. Join The Roar for live scores from 5:35pm (AEST).
In terms of nothing matches late in a season, this is just about at the bottom of the pile with the Crusaders on fire and the Blues doing the complete opposite at the other end of the table.
At the top, there is no question the Crusaders have been the best team across the season. They sit first place on the ladder, taking the New Zealand conference place in the finals.
They won’t be caught by those teams on top of the Australian or South African conference either – being the Waratahs and Lions respectively for the moment.
The Hurricanes are the second-placed team in the New Zealand conference, but even they are seven points back, so there is no chance of the Crusaders being caught or not winning the minor premiership. The Christchurch-based club have lost just two games all season and have now won 11 straight.
They have barely looked challenged during their run and will be looking to keep things going into the finals.
The Blues, on the other hand, sit all the way down the bottom of the table. They are the only New Zealand conference team who won’t make the finals, and only narrowly avoid the wooden spoon thanks to the struggles of the Sunwolves, who sit eight points below them heading into the finals.
The Auckland-based outfit have won just four games all season, although one of those was just a fortnight ago as they got the better of the hapless Reds.
It was back to normal transmission last week though as the Hurricanes ran 42 points up on the Blues. They do have the capability to cause an upset though, given a win over the Waratahs away from home five weeks ago.
There won’t be an upset in this one though. The Crusaders have been clinical and while they may not keep the foot down all the way to the finish line ahead of the finals, they will win and win well.
Crusaders by 18.
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