Since Super Rugby Aotearoa kicked off last month, Caleb Clarke on the Blues’ left wing has received plenty of plaudits for his impressive performances – especially in the Blues’ narrow win over the Highlanders two weeks ago.

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Mark Telea, who was a permanent fixture on the same wing prior to the Super Rugby suspension in March but shifted to the right-hand side of the park to accommodate for Clarke post-lockdown has sent a healthy reminder to the wider New Zealand public that opposition teams have to key their eyes peeled for both Blues wingers.

In tonight’s top-of-the-table clash, the Blues dominated possession and territory in the opening minutes and found themselves camped inside the Crusaders’ 22 early in the first quarter.

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A heads-up play saw new halfback Finlay Christie spin the ball wide to Otere Black, who floated a beautiful skip pass out to the right wing where Telea was eagerly waiting.

With the cover defence rushing to greet Telea, the cool-as-ice speedster dove for the corner and pumped the ball onto the turf with one hand, avoiding the attention of Crusaders fullback David Havili.

It was an audacious finish from the man who’s been relatively quiet since Super Rugby Aotearoa kicked off – bar a highlights reel-worthy fend in the opening weekend of the competition.

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Moments after Telea’s score, which took the Blues out to a 7-0 lead with Black’s conversion, the New Zealand, South Africa and Samoa qualified wing was causing havoc for the Crusaders again, returning a kick in earnest. After a high Crusaders ball hit the turf, Telea pounced and skirted down the field, swerving around Havili in the process.

The impressive run was almost too effective, with none of Telea’s supporting players available for a pass in open space that could well have seen the Blues go two tries ahead.

Telea’s general play and defence throughout the first half of the match was also of high quality at all times and fans took to social media to praise the blockbusting wing.

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The Blues led the Crusaders 7-6 at halftime after conceding two penalty kicks late in the first stanza.

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