Fast-starting Crusaders down Hurricanes
Untouchable ... Robbie Fruean breaks away from Richard Buckman on his way to scoring for the Crusaders. Photo: Getty Images
A superb first half display from the Crusaders set up an impressive 42-14 Super Rugby victory over the Hurricanes in Wellington on Saturday night.
The result lifted the Christchurch-based franchise into the top six of the competition at the expense of the Hurricanes, who dropped out of the finals spots.
With their dominance up front, their speed out wide and some fine support play, the Crusaders ran in five tries to two.
They had the match effectively wrapped up by the 36th minute, when they notched up their bonus-point fourth try to race out to a 32-0 lead.
That was the signal for a Hurricanes fightback, but the gap was always going to be too big to make up against a resilient defence.
The Crusaders' scrum superiority was on show as early as the fourth minute, when they produced a big shunt inside their own territory.
Winger Zac Guildford, who was lively all night, took advantage of the front-foot ball to scythe up the middle before sending impressive No.8 Kieran Read over.
Fullback Israel Dagg and halfback Andy Ellis then combined for inside centre Dan Carter to mark his 100th Super Rugby appearance with a try.
With the Crusaders continuing to apply the pressure, centre Robbie Fruean reined in opposition fullback Andre Taylor's poorly directed up-and-under before embarking on a bustling 45-metre run to dot down.
A Guildford offload then sent Dagg over for the bonus-point try.
The Hurricanes finally struck back on the stroke of halftime as Taylor showed his lethal attacking ability by ghosting through a gap for his sixth try of the season.
The home side continued their revival early in the second spell with flanker Victor Vito grabbing a soft try from a quickly taken penalty tap close to the line.
However, as the contest began to open up, Dagg's second try midway through the half halted the Hurricanes' momentum.
CRUSADERS 42 (Israel Dagg 2, Daniel Carter, Robbie Fruean, Kieran Read tries Tom Taylor 4 cons 3 pens) bt HURRICANES 14 (Andre Taylor, Victor Vito tries Beauden Barrett 2 cons) at Westpac Stadium. Referee: Craig Joubert.