By James Bennett
Hello and welcome to Eden Park in Auckland for the third round of Super Rugby action, tonight it’s the Blues hosting the Crusaders.
It’s the first hit out for the Crusaders tonight and what better test than a Blues side full of confidence.
The home team will be looking to build on an impressive performance in the capital; it’s their first time at Eden Park for 2013 with a bumper crowd expected for the clash.
We bring you live streaming written commentary (be sure to refresh your browser) and all the rugby action. VIDEO WILL BE AVAILABLE TO BE VIEWED STRAIGHT AFTER THE FINAL WHISTLE.
LIVE COMMENTARY… Fulltime: Blues 34 - 15 Crusaders
80 mins - Clock winds down, the Blues have pulled off a stunner! Really put the competition on notice. VIDEO IS NOW UP OF ALL THE TRIES, CHECK IT OUT.
77 mins - Everything going the Blues way now, knock ons, penalties all going to the home side. They will close it out now. Look out for video coming very soon of all the tries.
75 mins - TRY BLUES! A BREAKOUT FROM THEIR OWN HALF. Baden Kerr came on for Noakes and made an immediate impact, he put a little chip in and it was regathered by the outsides. Moala was scooting up the left wing and received the last pass and hooned down the tram lines to rub a serious amount of salt into the red and black wounds.
72 mins - DRAMA! Crusaders go close through Israel Dagg, they went wide and Dagg looked to have scored. It went upstairs and the video ref ruled that Dagg had made a double movement. HUGE CALL!
70 mins - It's almost as if the Ccrusaders have woken up and realised they need more than a converted try to win this! Showing some real urgency now! Dagg inside the 22m, here come the red and blacks.
68 mins - Visitors have several cracks however it's staunch Blues defence, eventually Tom McCartney shows real strength holding up a man and forcing the turnover scrum.
65 mins - Weepu off, Hall on at halfback and Parsons off Macdonald on at hooker for the Blues. Crusaders get a free kick and attack, they drive over the line but are held up. Great attacking scrum coming up for them.
61 mins - Not a lot going well for the visitors, they were on attack and concede a penalty.
59 mins - TRY TIME! Patient phase rugby by the Blues and they are rewarded. Up the middle this time, Charlie Faumuina goes real close before Braid dots down beside the posts for the bonus point try! Noakes now has the kicking duties and nails an easy one.
57 mins - Blues have missed a few from the tee tonight, Blues on the back foot before Noakes rolls a kick into Crusader territory. Carter returns before a Piutau bomb isn't dealt with by Crusaders, Blues swing on to attack.
55 mins - PENALTY! Another ruck penalty for not rolling away, Read not happy with that and has a yarn to the ref. Don't think he's changing his mind sorry Kieran. Weepu lines up a shot 25m out 15m in...Poor kick, dragged it to the left. That could come back to bite them.
54 mins - Again possession changing hands a bit, Ranger and the Blues backs go within 5 metres before a turnover, then the visitors return the favour with a knock on, midfield scrum Blues, great attacking chance.
50 mins - A bit more ping pong with possession, eventually a Blues backline move breaks down when Piutau knocks on, red and black scrum.
49 mins - Constant, unforgiving Crusaders defence swindle the ball away and the red and black machine starts to roll.
47 mins - PENALTY! Blues kick for position and we head to a lineout on the 22m. Plenty of field to use here. A couple of phases and ref blows for a scrum, Blues ball. Andy Ellis not stoked with the call, halfbacks never are.
45 mins - Dropped ball from the Crusaders backs, scrum down, halfway. Blue ball.
43 mins - PENALTY! Ranger was offside as Read went within a fingernail. This time Read wants the points and he gets them, three more for Carter.
42 mins - Crusaders earn a penalty early on and opt for the sideline - interesting. Carter kicks down to the 22m. Great position.
40 mins - Luke Braid back on, Carter gets us going before Noakes returns with a raking punt.
39 mins - Crusaders with the ball in good position on the edge of the 22m. They stretch them left then right, Blues looking thin...PENALTY! Another easy look for Carter..Nails the kick and after three tries from the Blues, the Crusaders are still in touch at halftime! Cracking second half in store.
37 mins - Bit of a loss for the Blues, Luke Braid has gone down the tunnel, possible concussion test for him. On the park the Crusaders have a penalty kick at goal and Dan Carter makes no mistake. Keeping in touch.
34 mins - BLUES TRY TIME! From the lineout the forwards do the grunt work, build phases, eventually the backs get a crack, they go right again. A lovely little dink chip kick from Chris Noakes finds Halai in the same corner and he dots down! Weepu adjusts the radar and nails the sideline kick.
32 mins - Scrappy passage of play, Blues lose a lineout against the throw but manage to get the pill back. They receive a dubious ruck penalty and opt for the sideline rather than the posts!
28 mins - Blues split them up the middle! Loosies involved with Ranger. They do well to settle and find support...Few phases later and they spin it right, down the chain and that man Frank Halai dives over in the right hand corner. Weepu misses a tough kick from the sideline.
25 mins - Another restart and another penalty for the Blues, some super D from Ali Williams. Weepu has a crack at goal and this time he nails it! Blues back out in front.
23 mins - Piutau fields a kick and runs, no surprises there, runs into strife though, a superb Kieran Read tackle and a ruck penalty. Carter lines up the kick at goal and yeah, you guessed it, three points.
21 mins - Blues swing it wide, few gaps, Ranger hits a gap but knocks on, hot and cold! Crusaders with a defensive scrum.
19 mins - Romano off for the night, rib injury. Blues on attack here, scrum 40 metres out middle of the park.
17 mins - Bad news for the red and blacks - Luke Romano has had to leave the field, not sure with what. Dominic Bird on in his place.
16 mins - Charles Piutau takes the bull by the horns, a lovely sweeping punt down deep into Crusader territory. Tom Taylor returns with a goodie of his own. Play moves down to halfway.
14 mins - Crusaders have the ball around half way but it's disjointed and eventually a mistake in midfield leads to a penalty for the home side. Noakes kicks for position. Possession ping pong, swaps several times.
11 mins - TRY BLUES! From the scrum it was patient build up building phases...They were in the shadow of the posts and Weepu threw a big, looping pass out right finding Steven Luatua who had an easy run to the line. Weepu can't convert, drifts left of the posts.
9 mins - Scrum, Blues ball, 25 metres out. Quality before they went through 12 phases, scrap earlier comment about ball retention!
7 mins - Fast paced and upbeat rugby from both sides. Ball retention not great, Blues in possession at present around 40m out. Patience key.
5 mins - PENALTY, Blues get one straight back in handy position. Weepu to have a crack at goal from 35 metres out. Off the post! Taken down from the Crusaders and scrambled into touch.
3 mins - Blues manage to get possession from the lineout but are then pinged for holding on in midfield. Crusaders to have a kick at goal, Dan Carter doesn't miss many. Nails it. Crusaders up early.
2 mins - Both teams have a touch of the ball, kickers playing for territory. It's a game of chess at the moment although the Blues look keen to give the ball some air. Eventually Weepu finds touch with a poor kick 30m from the Blues line.
1 min - Blues kick off and a huge roar from the crowd.
7:30pm - Here come the players, Crusaders first to a mild reception from the Auckland faithful. Kieran Read leads them out, now it's the Blues turn, led by Ali Williams.
7:25pm - They are packing into Eden Park this evening, heard whispers there will be about 30,000 there tonight, great crowd. Who are you picking? Jump on our 3 News Sport facebook page and let us know.
7:15pm - Ground conditions look superb, players are going through their final warm ups. Kirwan wandering around in his suit. This is going to be a ripper!
We will start commentary from 7:15pm bringing you the weather and ground conditions. In the meantime check out the video Jim Kayes caught up with Blues assistant coach Sir Graham Henry.
Blues: Charles Piutau, Frank Halai, Rene Ranger, Francis Saili, George Moala, Chris Noakes, Piri Weepu, Peter Saili, Luke Braid, Steven Luatua, Ali Williams (capt), Culum Retallick, Charlie Faumuina, James Parsons, Tom McCartney.
Reserves: Quentin MacDonald, Angus Ta'avao, Liaki Moli, Brendon O'Connor, Bryn Hall, Baden Kerr, Jackson Willison.
Crusaders: 1. Wyatt Crockett, 2. Corey Flynn, 3. Owen Franks, 4. Luke Romano, 5. Samuel Whitelock, 6. George Whitelock7. Matt Todd, 8. Kieran Read (c), 9. Andy Ellis, 10. Dan Carter, 11. Israel Dagg, 12. Ryan Crotty, 13. Robbie Fruean, 14. Adam Whitelock, 15. Tom Taylor.
Reserves: 16. Ben Funnell, 17. Joe Moody, 18. Dominic Bird, 19. Luke Whitelock 20. Willi Heinz, 21. Tyler Bleyendaal, 22. Tom Marshall.
Pre match banter:
The Crusaders forward pack has an established look about it, with Wyatt Crockett, Corey Flynn, Owen Franks, Luke Romano and Sam Whitelock making up the tight five. Whilst in the backs Tom Taylor will take the field in fullback position with Israel Dagg moving to the left wing.
Joe Moody and Dominic Bird have the opportunity to make their first appearance for Crusaders if called upon from the bench.
Centre Robbie Fruean will make his 50th appearance for the Crusaders.
Fruean joined the Crusaders in 2009 after making his debut in Super Rugby for the Hurricanes. To date he has scored over 65 points for side.
The team will be captained by experienced Crusader and All Black Kieran Read.
Sir John Kirwan has warned his young Blues team to expect near Test match intensity when they host the Crusaders.
Kirwan has retained the same squad of 22 that produced a 34-20 first-round upset over the Hurricanes last Friday.
The former All Blacks winger says there remains a special provincial rivalry between Auckland, whom he represented in his playing days, and Canterbury.
"This is just under a Test match," he said on Wednesday.
"Blues versus Crusaders is the game of the season, so you have to be ready for it. For us, it's like a derby."
Kirwan, who spent 10 years in Italy and whose wife is Italian, said he used the example of two great soccer clubs in that country to explain the rivalry to his son.
"I said `Boy, it's Inter and Milan'," he said. "He got that."