The Crusaders kicked off the 2012 Super Rugby season with a tight one point victory over the Blues at Eden Park on Friday.
Discipline cost the Blues dearly as they outscored their opposition in tries but Crusaders number 10 Tyler Bleyendaal kicked 4 penalties.
All Blacks Rugby world cup hero Piri Weepu could have snatched victory at the death for the Blues but his kick was charged down.
The 21-year-old Bleyendaal, starting a Super Rugby match for the first time, as understudy to injured All Blacks star Dan Carter, landed a conversion and four penalties for 14 points as the visitors won despite having one try against their opponent's two.
The Crusaders who were runners-up last year despite losing their home ground to the Christchurch earthquake, again showed resilience by twice rallying to hit the front in a match in which the lead changed hands three times.
The Blues started the stronger and their rush defense created the first try when Israel Dagg's clearing kick was charged down and flanker Chris Lowrey got to the ball first behind the goal line, with Hobbs converting.
Bleyendaal, a former New Zealand under-20s captain, started nervously but kicked his first penalty in the seventh minute to narrow the deficit.
The Blues though increased their lead to 12-3 when winger David Raikuna scored two minutes later.
The massive center Rene Ranger made a powerful break and, after a quick ruck and change of direction, captain Keven Mealamu loomed out wide to make the final pass to David Raikuna.
The Crusaders rallied with a try to mohawked center Robbie Fruean, who was almost the equal of Ranger for his destructive running.
Bleyendaal's conversion, which separated two penalties, gave the Crusaders a 16-12 lead at halftime.
In the second half the Blues came back with two penalties to Hobbs to take an 18-16 lead after 55 minutes.
But Bleyendaal regained the lead for the Crusaders with his final penalty 16 minutes from fulltime.
The forward contest was close, compelling and heated at times. Both sides had serviceable scrums but the Blues' lineout work was inexact and at times placed them under pressure.
The outcome was ultimately decided by the backlines, which sparkled with talent and included several members of the All Blacks team which won the World Cup on Eden Park four months ago.
The Blues also had a rookie in the No. 10 jersey - Michael Hobbs - who played with composure and kicked a conversion and two penalties from five attempts.
Final Score Blues 18 (12) Crusaders 19 (16)
Tries - C Lowrey, D. Raikuna
Pen - M Hobbs 2
Con - M Hobbs
Tries - R.Fruean
Pen - T. Bleyendaal 4
Con - T Bleyendaal
Referee: Chris Pollock
AR1: Glen Jackson
AR2 : Mike Fraser
TMO : Vinny Munro
1. Tom McCartney,2. Keven Mealamu (c),3 Charlie Faumuina,4. Anthony Boric,5. Ali Williams ,6. Chris Lowrey,7. Daniel Braid,8. Jerome Kaino,9. Alby Mathewson,10. Michael Hobbs ,11. Rudi Wulf,12. Benson Stanley,13. Rene Ranger,14. David Raikuna,15. Isaia Toeava
16 Pauliasi Manu,17 Tevita Mailau,18 Brad Mika,19 Luke Braid,20 Piri Weepu,21 Hadleigh Parkes,22 Sherwin Stowers
1. Wyatt Crockett, 2. Quentin MacDonald, 3. Ben Franks, 4. Tom Donnelly, 5. Samuel Whitelock, 6. George Whitelock, 7. Matt Todd, 8. Kieran Read (capt), 9. Andy Ellis (vice capt), 10. Tyler Bleyendaal, 11. Israel Dagg, 12. Ryan Crotty, 13. Robbie Fruean, 14. Sean Maitland, 15. Tom Marshall
Reserves:, 16. Corey Flynn, 17. Owen Franks, 18. Luke Romano, 19. Luke Whitelock, 20. Willie Heinz, 21. Partrick Osborne, 22. Adam Whitelock