Super Rugby 2020: Blues, Crusaders claim pre-season wins

The Blues and Crusaders will head into the 2020 Super Rugby season full of confidence, after winning their final pre-season matches on Friday. 

The Blues overcame the Hurricanes 29-28 at North Harbour's Onewa Domain, while the Crusaders thrashed the Highlanders 41-7 in Wanaka. 

In sweltering conditions in front of about 1000 spectators, the Blues outscored their rivals five tries to four, with flanker Tony Lamborn, winger Jordan Hyland, flanker Dalton Papalii, No.8 Akira Ioane and halfback Sam Nock crossing for the home side.

Winger Ben Lam, hooker Ricki Riccitelli, halfback Jamie Booth and reserve hooker Asafo Aumua scored tries for the Hurricanes.

Hurricanes lock James Blackwell left the field with a foot injury and was seen wearing a moon boot after the match, but coach Jason Holland denied it was anything serious. 

The 'Canes now fly out to South Africa on Saturday morning for their season-opener against the Stormers.

Meanwhile, the win gives Blues fans some optimism, after completing an unbeaten pre-season, having also beaten the Chiefs 26-19 in Waihi last week. 

The Blues face the Chiefs in their season-opener at Eden Park next Friday. 

Leicester Fainga’anuku.
Leicester Fainga’anuku. Photo credit: Photosport

Elsewhere, the Crusaders made light work of their southern rivals in front of 7000 fans to wrap up their Super Rugby preparations. The three-time defending champions outscored the Highlanders seven tries to one in a one-sided contest.

Winger Leicester Fainga'anuku scored a brace, while fullback Will Jordan, prop Michael Alaalatoa, flanker Tom Sanders, utility Brayden Ensor and wing Fetuli Paea also crossed for tries.

Midfielder Rob Thompson scored the Highlanders' only try. 

The Crusaders will take on the Waratahs in Nelson next Saturday in their season-opener, while the Highlanders have to wait until February 7 for their first match against the Sharks in Dunedin. 

Blues 29 (Tony Lamborn, Jordan Hyland, Dalton Papalii, Akira Ioane, Sam Nock tries; Stephen Perofeta conversion, Harry Plummer conversion) Hurricanes 28 (Ben Lam, Ricky Riccitelli, Jamie Booth, Asafo Aumua tries; Fletcher Smith 2 conversions, Jackson Garden-Bachop 2 conversions)

Crusaders 41 (Leicester Fainga’anuku 2, Will Jordan, Michael Alaalatoa, Tom Sanders, Brayden Ensor, Fainai Paea tries; Bryn Hall 2 conversions, Brett Cameron conversion) Highlanders 7 (Rob Thompson try; Mitch Hunt conversion)

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