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Crusaders come back to beat Blues

Winger Nemani Nadolo scored two tries as the Crusaders beat the Blues 21-13 in a hard-fought encounter in Christchurch.

The result keeps the Crusaders flying high near the top of the Super Rugby standings but means the Blues are now virtually out of contention for a place in the play-offs.

The Blues now need to claim a bonus-point victory over the Chiefs in their final game and also need other results to go their way if they are to get into the top six.

It is a different story for seven-time winners the Crusaders after they provisionally climbed into the top two after claiming their 10th win of the campaign - although it was far from comfortable.

The Crusaders had star players Kieran Read, Dan Carter, Israel Dagg and Nadolo in their starting line-up but the Blues made it tough for their opponents and led 13-11 at the break.

Colin Slade and Ihaia West swapped penalties early on before the Nadolo scored the opening try of the game, the powerful winger barging his way over in the corner as two Blues defenders tried in vain to keep him out.

Slade was unlucky not to add the extras from the touchline but the Crusaders looked certain to add a second try just moments later anyway when Dominic Bird was hauled down on the tryline under the posts.

That gave Crusaders a great platform with an overlap out wide, but Blues wing Frank Halai read the situation perfectly and he raced out to intercept Andy Ellis' pass before racing the length of the field to touch down unchallenged.

From what looked set to be a possible 15-3 Crusaders lead, the Blues were suddenly ahead with Slade's conversion making it 10-8 to the visitors.

That became 13-11 at the break, but the Crusaders hit back in the second half with All Blacks ace Carter putting them ahead with a 66th-minute penalty after taking over the kicking duties.

Nadolo then crashed over for his second try, which was converted by Carter, to seal the victory which leaves the Crusaders in pole position to finish top of the New Zealand conference.

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