Crusaders pushed but had enough in reserve

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Sunday, May 20, 2018    Lynn McConnell    Getty Images

Crusaders coach Scott Robertson said there were parts of the second half when the Crusaders were hanging on. The execution that had served them well in the first half wasn't replicated and when they got 14 points ahead the game was on the verge of becoming a blowout.

But the Blues scored next to stay in the game and got more hope but the Crusaders had managed to shut them out and to claim yet another derby game.

"It's the first game we've won away against New Zealand teams this year. We definitely didn't take it for granted, it is tough to win up here and we will take that," he said.

The Blues did have the ability to tear sides apart and he pointed to the desperation the Crusaders needed to contain wing Rieko Ioane in the last moments of the game.

"They are tough and they were good in the second half," he said.

Not being able to call on usual captain Sam Whitelock, who hadn't been feeling well, and knowing the side had lost games when he hadn't played earlier in the season, it had been good for flanker Matt Todd to get a win as captain while lock Scott Barrett had been sensational, he said, not only in his lineout play but in his own game and leadership, he said.

The Crusaders lost Ryan Crotty again to a head knock but while being careful and cautious with him the system was good because he would definitely not play unless he was ready.

"You can't sneak anything through with the current rules and regulations and the return to play is stringent and we go through that process and we've got to trust it," he said.

Blues coach Tana Umaga was pleased with the second half effort but said they paid the price for giving the Crusaders too much of a lead in the first half.

"We were able to come back and put some pressure on them and I think our boys held together really well," he said.

Umaga said the situation which resulted in Crusaders and All Blacks tighthead prop Owen Franks being stood down for two weeks as a result of a blow to the head of Blues hooker James Parsons was for the referees' to address.

But referee Glen Jackson was not alerted to the incident until a try had been scored and deemed the incident too far back in the game to be dealt with on the field.

Umaga said the safety of players was the first and foremost consideration and he was sure there would be questions asked as a result of the incident.

"That's why these things are put in place and that's how they should judge it," he said.

Fullback Matt Duffie suffered a head knock when competing for a high ball and was forced out of the game and he was now asking the coaches whether he should bother going up for high balls if there was no protection under the law, Umaga said.