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Super Rugby: Crusaders cruise to comfortable win over bottom-club Highlanders
The Crusaders heaped more misery on Super Rugby basement boys the Highlanders with a 24-8 win over their New Zealand counterparts at AMI Stadium on Saturday.
Keen to bounce back from their surprise defeat to Western Force the previous week, Crusaders powered into a 16-0 lead at half-time through three Tyler Bleyendaal penalties and a converted try from Robbie Fruean.
Jason Emery gave Highlanders brief hope with a try shortly after the break but Crusaders dominated possession and territory throughout and put the gloss on a commanding display through Tom Taylor's late score.
The winless Highlanders remain rooted to the foot of the table after an eighth straight defeat, while Crusaders move up to seventh in the table with win number four.
Despite the convincing margin of victory, Crusaders made an inauspicious start when Bleyendaal dragged a penalty wide in the face of a biting wind, before Owen Franks was sent to the sin bin.
Numerical disadvantage would not trouble the hosts, however, and Bleyendaal soon got them up and running with a three-pointer.
Hayden Parker then failed with a penalty for the visitors and Bleyendaal quickly showed him the way at the other end, with third penalty being landed immediately after.
The Crusaders were comfortable at 9-0 and quickly posted their first try when Fruean dived over after a short-range play.
The Highlanders stirred a little after the break after Emery went in after a quick tap, but Parker missed the two and Bleyendeel quickly added a penalty.
Colin Slade took over kicking duties for the away side and landed a three-pointer just after the hour, but any thoughts of a late comeback were put to bed when Taylor charged in at the corner.