Crusaders 29 (Will Jordan 2, Sevu Reece, Codie Taylor tries; Richie Mo’unga 3 con, pen) Blues 6 (Otere Black 2 pen) HT: 12-0
FULLTIME - Check out a full wrap here.
72 mins - TRY CRUSADERS - Havili grubbers from 40m out and puts it on a dime for Jordan, who bolts through, bumbles the ball off his legs then manages to ground it for his second try. Mo'unga slots it from the sideline.
70 mins - Akira Ioane breaks clear! Peels off 40m, runs out of support. Jordan pulls him down 22m short and the Crusaders are there in a flash to win a defensive penalty.
68 mins - Knock on Rieko Ioane and the Crusaders will feed a scrum 30m out.
65 mins - Crusaders on the attack again, lineout 10m out. Handy ruck work by the Blues and they win a defensive penalty to kill offf the raid.
59 mins - TRY CRUSADERS - Called it! Mr Taylor with a trademark try from the lineout maul. The competition's leading try scorer does it again. Mo'unga converts.
58 mins - Kick in behind the Blues, Clarke goes back to cover and is caught near his own line. Crusaders swarm in, win the penalty. They'll look to their lethal 5m lineout drive here. Taylor time.
56 mins - Taylor gives away a penalty for hands at the ruck. Black will line up another shot at goal, 30m out on a slight angle... and he's dragged it to the left.
54 mins - Havili throws a lovely long ball to put Reece into space. Chip kick out on the full, Blues lineout near halfway.
51 mins - Crusaders get one back at the scrum, winning a penalty. Into Blues territory, they go. Havili looks to the boot, pins the Blues on their own 5m for a lineout.
50 mins - Crusaders' defence stand up to a Blues attack, multiple phases end with a knock on and a penalty to the hosts. They'll move to a 10m lineout.
46 mins - Another Blues penalty and Black converts again. Back to a nine-point game.
43 mins - Identical penalty won by Cullen Grace at the other end of the field. Mo'unga promptly cancels out that Blues three-pointer with a penalty reply.
41 mins - Quick defensive penalty to the Blues put them on the front foot early. Black bangs over a gift three points.
40 mins - Havili has a crack at the posts from 50m on the angle with time expiring, falls just short.
37 mins - Mo'unga ghosts through a tiny gap to spark a Crusaders break. Ends with a penalty to the Cusuaders in handy rang to the posts. Mo'unga lines it up...sends it wide.
35 mins - Crusaders on the offensive, 22m out. Papali'i kills it off with ruck turnover. Blues penalty.
31 mins - Blues opt for a captain's referral for what they believe was a front neck roll in a tackle. Penalty goes the Blues' way.
27 mins - TRY CRUSADERS - Mo'unga cashes in on an overlap with a brilliant long ball to Reece, who fends Perofeta and finishes in the corner. Mo'unga hits the post with his conversion.
25 mins - Blues try to run it out of danger but a forward pass is thrown. Scrum for the Crusaders, another superb attacking opportunity, 10m out from the Blues' line.
22 mins - Codie Taylor wins a ruck turnover with the Blues just a metre short of the line. Penalty Crsuaders, they relieve the pressure back to their own 10m line.
20 mins - Crusaders knock on, Blues back on attack. Penalty advantage cashed in. The Bles will move to a 5m lineout.
18 mins - Hoskins Sotutu - looking like a midfielder - cuts inside a defender then bolts 20m for what looked to be a certain try. The referee awards it, but they'll go upstairs for another look. Will Jordan may have made an incredible cover tackle here. Yes he has, ball an inch short of the chalk. That was impressive. Goal line dropout.
17 mins - Blues win their second scrum penalty of the game. They'll launch from a lineout at the Crusaders 22m.
13 mins - Crusaders penalised for taking out an attacking player off the ball. Plummer can't make them pay, makes a meal of a straightforward shot at goal.
5 mins - TRY CRUSADERS - Will Jordan runs a perfect line off a short ball and beats some weak Blues defence to scross for the game's first try. Mo'unga converts.
1st min - Mo'unga gets us started and Crusaders immediately win possession. Knock on at the ruck, Crusaders pack a scrum near the Blues 22m.
Kia ora, welcome to Newshub’s live updates of this Super Rugby Aotearoa clash between the Crusaders and the Blues at Christchurch's OrangeTheory Stadium.
The Southerners have an opportunity to lock up a home final with a win, while the Blues are fighting to keep their hopes of joining them alive
We'll have all the live action from 3:35pm.
TAB head-to-head betting odds
Crusaders - $1.36 Blues - $3.00
Crusaders: 1-George Bower, 2-Codie Taylor, 3-Michael Alaalatoa, 4-Mitchell Dunshea, 5-Quinten Strange, 6-Scott Barrett (c), 7-Tom Sanders, 8-Ethan Blackadder, 9-Mitchell Drummond, 10-Richie Mo'unga, 11-George Bridge, 12-David Havili, 13-Leicester Fainga'anuku, 14-Sevu Reece, 15-Will Jordan
Reserves: 16-Brodie McAlister 17-Tamaiti Williams, 18-Oli Jager, 19-Mitchell Dunshea, 20-Tom Sanders, 21-Bryn Hall, 22-Dallas McLeod, 23-Manasa Mataele
Blues: 1-Karl Tu'inukuafe, 2-Kurt Eklund, 3-Nepo Laulala, 4-Gerard Cowley-Tuioti, 4-Sam Darry, 6-Blake Gibson, 7-Daltan Papalii (c), 8-Hoskins Sotutu, 9-Jonathan Ruru, 10-Harry Plummer, 11-Caleb Clarke, 12-Tanielu Tele'a, 13-Rieko Ioane (c), 14-Mark Telea, 15-Stephen Perofeta
Reserves: 16-Soane Vikena, 17-Marcel Renata, 18-Ofa Tuungafasi, 19-Taine Plumtree, 20-Akira Ioane, 21-Finlay Christie, 22-Otere Black, 23-AJ Lam
Competition-leading Codie Taylor plays down try-scoring heroics
By Alex Powell
Crusaders and All Blacks hooker Codie Taylor has played down his exceptional tryscoring record, despite his current status as most prolific player in Super Rugby Aotearoa.
Try-scoring statistics are usually dominated by wingers, but front-rower Taylor currently tops the charts in the 2021 season, crossing six times for the Crusaders this year.
Highlanders flyer Jona Nareki sits second with four tries, while All Blacks and Crusaders teammate Sevu Reece provides Taylor's closest competition from within his own side, with three of his own.
What's more, Taylor sits sixth on Super Rugby Aotearoa's pointscorer's list with 30, sitting only behind each side's respective goal-kickers, led by the Chiefs' Damian McKenzie with 82.
While tryscoring may not be his sole focus in helping the Crusaders to a potential fifth straight title, Taylor says his teammates deserve the credit for his prolific start to the year.
"I sat down at the start of the year and had a pretty clear plan about where I wanted to head to," Taylor says. "Half of them are maul tries, so you can't really claim those.
"It's the seven men in front of you that are pushing that should get their names on the stats sheet.
"It's just been an enjoyable season. [With] fresh goals and where I want to head to is, I suppose, driving my work off the field and on it."
But Taylor's teammates insist his tryscoring exploits are no fluke.
"You see him putting in the hard work that no-one else sees," teammate George Bridge tells Newshub. "It's good to see that it's coming out on the field.
"He doesn't mind dotting down - it's been good to see, actually.
"We're pretty fortunate that he's on our side, but he's having a great season. I'm loving watching him and playing alongside him."
Assistant coach Andrew Goodman credits the hooker's desire to improve as one of the reasons for his 2021 successes.
"He's been playing outstanding hasn't he... just the way he trains, with the energy.
"You see it on the field, he pops up all over the show, massive effort plays from him. It's nice to see him getting rewarded with a few meat pies [tries].
"He's motivated to be the best hooker in the world. The way he comes in here early, he's always working on his game, always on the computers, finding ways to get better.
"The way he trains, focussing on everything from his mobility to his hooker mastery. He's endless in here with the time he spends."
Taylor will have a chance to add to his haul of tries this weekend, as the Crusaders host the Blues at Orangetheory Stadium on Sunday.