The Blues’ Super Rugby revival may have been short-lived.
A week after stunning defending champions the Highlanders, the Tana Umaga-coached outfit produced a disjointed display in Christchurch as the Crusaders cruised to a 28-13 win.
The winning margin could have been far greater save for some determined Blues defence as the home side monopolised territory and possession at Christchurch Stadium.
The hosts had only a penalty try and Kieran Read five-pointer to show for their efforts until a late Richie Mo’unga intercept put the result beyond doubt.
The Blues, seeking to end a 12-year drought in Christchurch, made six changes from the side that impressed against the Highlanders last week and struggled for any fluency.
Their scrum was backpedalling throughout the first half with the Crusaders’ All Blacks frontrowers ensuring set piece supremacy and their lineout was a shambles.
The hosts got their reward with a penalty try after 16 minutes when referee Paul Williams lost patience with a Blues scrum that splintered under pressure.
The converted try gave the hosts a 10-3 lead after respective five-eighths Mo’unga and Matt McGahan had traded early penalties.
Despite their dominance and with a useful breeze at their backs, the Crusaders had only a second Mo’unga penalty to show for their efforts at the break.
Umaga rectified their scrum woes at the resumption by bringing on All Blacks prop Charlie Faumuina but the Blues spent much of the match camped in their own half.
Prop Joe Moody was held up over the line and wing Jone Macilai was dragged down just short as the home side, beaten 27-21 by the Chiefs at the same venue last week, sought to ram home their advantage.
Instead, the Blues struck first in the second stanza through a penalty to replacement No.10 Ihaia West and the Crusaders were denied again when Nemani Nadolo went close after seizing on Mo’unga’s hooked penalty attempt.
Mo’unga restored the 10-point margin soon after before the 130kg Fijian winger sparked the Crusaders’ second try after a surging run that sent former Melbourne Storm winger Matt Duffie flying.
Nadolo burst upfield and Duffie, who had an error-strewn debut, was swatted away like a fly before play shifted to allow no.8 Kieran Read to cross out wide.
Tevita Li scored a try from a set piece to give the Blues late hope but that was snuffed out when Mo’unga raced away in the final minute.