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Super Rugby: Crusaders go second after overpowering Force
Crusaders moved up to second place in the conference table with this decisive three tries to one success over Western Force.
A first-half score for Johnny McNicholl, plus two penalty tries were largely responsible for seeing the Christchurch-based outfit in control throughout the 80 minutes.
Dane Haylett-Perry snatched one back for the Force, but they failed to live up to that billing as a collective and that, along with Sias Ebersohn's coversion, was all that they could muster in reply.
With both a dominant line-out and scrum, Crusaders were able to play the majority of the game in opposition territory and they forced several early errors, with Colin Slade capitalising by slotting over a 10th-minute penalty to give Crusaders the lead.
An Andy Ellis break looked to have created the game's first try for Crusaders' winger Nemani Nadolo, but desperate defence by the Force somehow kept him out.
However, that merely delayed the inevitable and, after further sustained pressure close to the visitors' line they conceded another penalty and Slade made no mistake with the boot to double their advantage.
With their tails up, Crusaders found further good field position, enabling Israel Dagg to send McNicholl racing over for the game's opening try, Slade adding the extras.
Play followed a similar pattern throughout the half, with Slade slotting over another penalty before the break, after an exhausting defensive effort saw the Force concede again.
Even the most optimistic Western Force fan would have been hard-pressed to summon up too much enthusiasm for a comeback, despite Haylewtt-Perry getting them on the scoreboard with around half an hour to play.
The try did, at least, signal the best period of the match for the Force, but Crusaders' defence matched everything that was thrown at them. The home side eventually pulled further clear with a penalty try after winning a line-out and driving for the line.
Similarly, they chose a scrum from a penalty in the dying seconds and were awarded another penalty try from the scrum, goaled by Slade to complete an emphatic success.
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|Friday 13th February|
|06:35||Crusaders vs Melbourne Rebels|
|08:40||Brumbies vs Reds|
|17:10||Lions vs Hurricanes|
|Saturday 14th February|
|06:35||Blues vs Chiefs|
|15:05||Sharks vs Cheetahs|
|17:05||Bulls vs Stormers|
|Sunday 15th February|
|06:05||Waratahs vs Western Force|
|Friday 20th February|
|06:35||Chiefs vs Brumbies|
|08:40||Melbourne Rebels vs Waratahs|
|17:10||Bulls vs Hurricanes|
|Saturday 21st February|
|06:35||Highlanders vs Crusaders|
|08:40||Reds vs Western Force|
|15:05||Stormers vs Blues|
|17:10||Sharks vs Lions|
|Friday 27th February|
|06:35||Highlanders vs Reds|
|11:00||Western Force vs Hurricanes|
|17:10||Cheetahs vs Blues|
|Saturday 28th February|
|06:35||Chiefs vs Crusaders|
|08:40||Melbourne Rebels vs Brumbies|
|15:05||Bulls vs Sharks|
|17:10||Lions vs Stormers|
|Friday 6th March|
|06:35||Chiefs vs Highlanders|
|08:40||Brumbies vs Western Force|
|Saturday 7th March|
|06:35||Blues vs Lions|
|08:40||Reds vs Waratahs|
Read the thoughts and opinions of Phil Edwards with skysports.com