Hot on the heels of their gutsy win over the table-topping Stormers, the Crusaders hit top gear in Wellington on the weekend, crushing the Hurricanes 42-14.
The game was all but out of reach for the hosts before half-time, with the Crusaders’ lightning-fast start seeing them blitz to a 32-7 lead at the break.
The signs were ominous for the ‘Canes from the beginning, with the Crusaders looking as though they were getting close to revisiting the clinical style of play which has seen them dominate Super Rugby for over a decade. A superb set-piece move saw outstanding loose-forward Kieran Reid cross for the visitors, and Tom Taylor’s conversion gave them an early seven point advantage.
Taylor, retaining the kicking duties even with Dan Carter on the paddock, continued his excellent form of late, although Carter did contribute to the points haul, crossing for the Red and Blacks’ second try after an electrifying surge down the left flank.
The points continued to flow for the Cantabrians, as first Robbie Freuan, in a superb individual display, and then Israel Dagg, scored five-pointers, before in-form Hurricanes fullback Andre Taylor finally opened the home-side’s account with a try on the half-time hooter.
The second spell was a much tighter affair, but with the game seemingly in the bag it is easy to forgive the Crusaders for taking their foot off the pedal slightly.
Victor Vito scored first in the second stanza, catching the Crusaders defence on the hop as he barged over from a quick tap, but any hopes of a revival were squashed when Dagg snared his second of the night. While the Hurricanes showed passion and heart In the dying stages they were unable to breach the visitor’s line again, and walked away with nothing to show from what was a trying night at the office.
In the other shed, the Crusaders, in characteristic form, seem to be peaking at the right end of the season. While there has been plenty of flair and x-factor on display already this season (Freuan, Dagg, and Guildford) it is the cut-throat nature with which they executed their set pieces and planned moves on the weekend which would have given the coaching staff most satisfaction. The Crusaders have a habit of easing their way in to form, but if the weekend is anything to go by their campaign is now in full swing.