Crusaders 51 Highlanders 18
Zac Guilford of the Crusaders breaks away to score his first of two tries. Photo: Getty Images
The Crusaders have racked up a half-century for their second Super Rugby match in a row, beating the Highlanders 51-18 to consolidate their place in the competition's top six.
The seven-time champions, who downed the Blues 59-12 two weeks ago, showed no rust from having had a bye to run in seven tries to two in Christchurch on Friday night.
Wyatt Crockett of the Crusaders makes a break. Photo: Getty images
For the Highlanders, who got the better of their southern rivals in their earlier meeting this season, the result leaves them in mid-table.
A match that began with both sides showing huge intensity at the breakdown was broken open in the second quarter.
The Crusaders took full advantage of a yellow card shown to Highlanders flanker James Haskell for playing the ball on the ground near his line.
Turning point ... Steve Walsh sends James Haskell (unpictured) to the sin bin. Photo: Getty Images
With the England international off the field, they ran in three tries, two to winger Zac Guildford, to kick out to a 32-13 lead before halftime.
Haskell's sinbinning was the second of the half, with referee Steve Walsh showing yellow to Crusaders flanker George Whitelock after just 16 minutes for a similar offence.
While Whitelock, the match's opening tryscorer, was off, the Highlanders hit the front through centre Tamati Ellison, who brushed off two defenders to dot down.
From there, the Crusaders took over.
Guildford's first touchdown came from a Crusaders breakout while he nabbed his second when he latched on to five-eighth Dan Carter's deft kick ahead.
From the kick-off, centre Ryan Crotty finished off fellow midfielder Robbie Fruean's big break for the bonus-point try.
Skipper Richie McCaw put his side further ahead early in the second half when he completed another long-range attack.
By now, the Crusaders were dominant as they began throwing the ball around, and prop Wyatt Crockett was next to score.
At 44-13 down, the Highlanders got some respite with winger Hosea Gear snaring an intercept try, but the home side got the last word with replacement flanker Matt Todd being driven over from a lineout.
CRUSADERS 51 (Zac Guildford 2, Wyatt Crockett, Ryan Crotty, Richard McCaw, Matt Todd, George Whitelock tries Daniel Carter 5 cons 2 pens) bt HIGHLANDERS 18 (Tamati Ellison, Hosea Gear tries Chris Noakes con 2 pens) at Christchurch Stadium. Referee: Steve R. Walsh