Carter leads Crusaders past Blues
Dan Carter laid down another marker as the Crusaders recorded back-to-back wins for only the second time this season.
Carter's return to fly-half coincided with the seven-time champions upsetting Super Rugby leaders the Hurricanes last week and he followed that up with a 14-point haul in a 34-11 triumph over the Blues on Saturday.
The Crusaders snagged a bonus point thanks to tries from Nemani Nadolo, Luke Romano and Matt Todd as well as a penalty try to at least put some pressure on the Chiefs and the Waratahs in the race for the play-offs, although their salvo is likely too little too late.
The Blues actually moved into a 6-0 lead after just seven minutes, courtesy of two penalties from fly-half Ihaia West, but as the Crusaders racked up the points at Eden Park the hosts had to wait until the 75th minute to get on the scoreboard again, with wing Ben Lam notching a late consolation try.
Carter was the creator as the Crusaders got off the mark in the 13th minute, with Nadolo rising highest to claim his kick to the corner and dot down after successfully juggling the catch. The All Blacks fly-half then added the conversion to put his side 7-6 up and they never looked back from there.
The 33-year-old split the posts again with a penalty in the 25th minute to take him past 100 points in a Super Rugby season for the 10th time in his career, before Romano crashed over off a quick line-out and Carter's conversion made it 17-6 at the break.
Another penalty from Carter stretched the lead out to 14 points after the restart and the Crusaders' scrum battered the Blues into submission on the hour mark to earn a penalty try, with Carter adding the easy conversion.
The all-important bonus-point try came six minutes later as blind side Todd touched down off the back of a driving maul. Carter added the extras to complete his impressive outing, before the second-bottom Blues went in search of pride and found some with Lam diving over in the corner late on.