The Highlanders travelled to Christchurch on Friday night for what was a critical clash for both sides.
In a first half that was defined by turning points and momentum shifts the Crusaders were first out of the gate, scoring early through George Whitelock as their forwards signaled a willingness to engage in the tough stuff.
8 minutes in and the home side led by ten, but then their discipline started to slip, and a raft of penalties in quick succession led to Whitelock’s sin binning.
The Highlanders, with momentum now firmly going their way, gained a 13-10 advantage, before the key moment in the match, when they too were reduced to 14 men, and the Crusaders seized their moment.
Three scintillating tries before the break secured the bonus point, and a relentless effort in the second spell, even when coach Blackadder rung the changes, saw the scoreline expand to 51-18.
It wasn’t that the Highlanders were terrible; the Crusaders were simply too good, and made the right decisions when opportunities presented themselves. The red and blacks are setting a cracking pace at the moment, and on this kind of form are an irresistible force.